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12/05/2022     Yesterday     Tomorrow

2 Corinthians 5 - 9

2 Corinthians 5

Our Heavenly Dwelling

2 Corinthians 5:1     For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2 For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, 3 if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. 4 For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. 5 He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.

6 So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, 7 for we walk by faith, not by sight. 8 Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. 9 So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.

The Ministry of Reconciliation

11 Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others. But what we are is known to God, and I hope it is known also to your conscience. 12 We are not commending ourselves to you again but giving you cause to boast about us, so that you may be able to answer those who boast about outward appearance and not about what is in the heart. 13 For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. 14 For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; 15 and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.

16 From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

2 Corinthians 6

2 Corinthians 6 1 Working together with him, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain. 2 For he says,

“In a favorable time I listened to you,
and in a day of salvation I have helped you.”

Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation. 3 We put no obstacle in anyone’s way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry, 4 but as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: by great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, 5 beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger; 6 by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love; 7 by truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; 8 through honor and dishonor, through slander and praise. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; 9 as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold, we live; as punished, and yet not killed; 10 as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything.

11 We have spoken freely to you, Corinthians; our heart is wide open. 12 You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted in your own affections. 13 In return (I speak as to children) widen your hearts also.

The Temple of the Living God

14 Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? 15 What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? 16 What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said,

“I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them,
and I will be their God,
and they shall be my people.
17  Therefore go out from their midst,
and be separate from them, says the Lord,
and touch no unclean thing;
then I will welcome you,

2 Corinthians 6:17 says, come out from their midst. Paul quotes Isa 52:11 to urge the believers in Corinth to separate themselves from the harmful influence of unbelievers. Such people opposed Paul and divided the church; Paul was telling the Corinthians they must no longer tolerate their divisiveness.

Isaiah 52:11 Depart, depart, go out from there;
touch no unclean thing;
go out from the midst of her; purify yourselves,
you who bear the vessels of the LORD.

18  and I will be a father to you,
and you shall be sons and daughters to me,
says the Lord Almighty.”

2 Corinthians 7

2 Corinthians 7:1     Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.

Paul’s Joy

2 Make room in your hearts for us. We have wronged no one, we have corrupted no one, we have taken advantage of no one. 3 I do not say this to condemn you, for I said before that you are in our hearts, to die together and to live together. 4 I am acting with great boldness toward you; I have great pride in you; I am filled with comfort. In all our affliction, I am overflowing with joy.

5 For even when we came into Macedonia, our bodies had no rest, but we were afflicted at every turn—fighting without and fear within. 6 But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus, 7 and not only by his coming but also by the comfort with which he was comforted by you, as he told us of your longing, your mourning, your zeal for me, so that I rejoiced still more. 8 For even if I made you grieve with my letter, I do not regret it—though I did regret it, for I see that that letter grieved you, though only for a while. 9 As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us.

10 For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death. 11 For see what earnestness this godly grief has produced in you, but also what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what punishment! At every point you have proved yourselves innocent in the matter. 12 So although I wrote to you, it was not for the sake of the one who did the wrong, nor for the sake of the one who suffered the wrong, but in order that your earnestness for us might be revealed to you in the sight of God. 13 Therefore we are comforted.

And besides our own comfort, we rejoiced still more at the joy of Titus, because his spirit has been refreshed by you all. 14 For whatever boasts I made to him about you, I was not put to shame. But just as everything we said to you was true, so also our boasting before Titus has proved true. 15 And his affection for you is even greater, as he remembers the obedience of you all, how you received him with fear and trembling. 16 I rejoice, because I have complete confidence in you.

2 Corinthians 8

Encouragement to Give Generously

2 Corinthians 8:1     We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, 2 for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. 3 For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, 4 begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints— 5 and this, not as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us. 6 Accordingly, we urged Titus that as he had started, so he should complete among you this act of grace. 7 But as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all earnestness, and in our love for you—see that you excel in this act of grace also.

8 I say this not as a command, but to prove by the earnestness of others that your love also is genuine. 9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich. 10 And in this matter I give my judgment: this benefits you, who a year ago started not only to do this work but also to desire to do it. 11 So now finish doing it as well, so that your readiness in desiring it may be matched by your completing it out of what you have. 12 For if the readiness is there, it is acceptable according to what a person has, not according to what he does not have. 13 For I do not mean that others should be eased and you burdened, but that as a matter of fairness 14 your abundance at the present time should supply their need, so that their abundance may supply your need, that there may be fairness. 15 As it is written, “Whoever gathered much had nothing left over, and whoever gathered little had no lack.”

Commendation of Titus

16 But thanks be to God, who put into the heart of Titus the same earnest care I have for you. 17 For he not only accepted our appeal, but being himself very earnest he is going to you of his own accord. 18 With him we are sending the brother who is famous among all the churches for his preaching of the gospel. 19 And not only that, but he has been appointed by the churches to travel with us as we carry out this act of grace that is being ministered by us, for the glory of the Lord himself and to show our good will. 20 We take this course so that no one should blame us about this generous gift that is being administered by us, 21 for we aim at what is honorable not only in the Lord’s sight but also in the sight of man. 22 And with them we are sending our brother whom we have often tested and found earnest in many matters, but who is now more earnest than ever because of his great confidence in you. 23 As for Titus, he is my partner and fellow worker for your benefit. And as for our brothers, they are messengers of the churches, the glory of Christ. 24 So give proof before the churches of your love and of our boasting about you to these men.

2 Corinthians 9

The Collection for Christians in Jerusalem

2 Corinthians 9 1 Now it is superfluous for me to write to you about the ministry for the saints, 2 for I know your readiness, of which I boast about you to the people of Macedonia, saying that Achaia has been ready since last year. And your zeal has stirred up most of them. 3 But I am sending the brothers so that our boasting about you may not prove empty in this matter, so that you may be ready, as I said you would be. 4 Otherwise, if some Macedonians come with me and find that you are not ready, we would be humiliated—to say nothing of you—for being so confident. 5 So I thought it necessary to urge the brothers to go on ahead to you and arrange in advance for the gift you have promised, so that it may be ready as a willing gift, not as an exaction.

The Cheerful Giver

6 The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. 7 Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. 9 As it is written,

“He has distributed freely, he has given to the poor;
his righteousness endures forever.”

10 He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. 11 You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God. 12 For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God. 13 By their approval of this service, they will glorify God because of your submission that comes from your confession of the gospel of Christ, and the generosity of your contribution for them and for all others, 14 while they long for you and pray for you, because of the surpassing grace of God upon you. 15 Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!

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All This To Fulfill What The Lord Had Spoken

By Justin Huffman 12/4/2017

     In the wonderfully heart-warming, spirit-lifting, worship-inducing story of the birth of Jesus, as it is related to us by Matthew, there is one crucial element of the whole event that is often overlooked. That a virgin would bring forth a son is astounding; that Jesus will certainly save His people is reassuring; that God would condescend to be with us is humbling. But there is another point that Matthew purposefully interjects into the inspired account, and it is this: “All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet” (Matthew 1:22).

     When you think of Biblical prophecy, do you think of God describing events that will later come to pass, or of God declaring that events will later come to pass? In other words, is prophecy simply God “looking down through the tunnel of time,” seeing what is going to happen, and reporting what He sees? Or is prophecy the declaration of God, based on His almighty power and wisdom, of what He has foreordained to happen?

     If we speculated that prophecy is merely a description based on foresight, then we would expect Matthew to say something like this: “and so, you see, God had spoken all these things by the prophet because they were going to happen later.” But Matthew actually says the opposite! “All this took place to fulfill…” All these things happened, Matthew says, because God said they were going to happen! We see here God’s omnipotence shaping reality with His Word.

     An Unbending Word | From Matthew’s careful wording in this story, we learn that God’s word is more certain, more secure, more immovable than any event on earth. Reality itself must conform to the whole purpose and plan of God. And this choice of words by Matthew is no mistake or anomaly. Matthew uses the exact same phrase—“to fulfill”—no less than ten times throughout his gospel!

     As we review just these ten instances of God’s prophetic power, you and I should be struck by both the magnitude and the minutia of what God had ordered beforehand to take place. These are the things which Matthew tells us unfolded so that God’s Word might be fulfilled:

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Justin Huffman is a graduate of Reformed Theological Seminary and has pastored in the States for over fifteen years. Justin authored the “Daily Devotion” app which now has over half a million downloads, and recently published Grow: The Command to Ever-Expanding Joy (Following Jesus) (Following Jesis). He blogs at justinhuffman.org.

The Institutes of the Christian Religion

Translated by Henry Beveridge

     2. But there is another special mark by which he designates himself, for the purpose of giving a more intimate knowledge of his nature. While he proclaims his unity, he distinctly sets it before us as existing in three persons. These we must hold, unless the bare and empty name of Deity merely is to flutter in our brain without any genuine knowledge. Moreover, lest any one should dream of a threefold God, or think that the simple essence is divided by the three Persons, we must here seek a brief and easy definition which may effectually guard us from error. But as some strongly inveigh against the term Person as being merely of human inventions let us first consider how far they have any ground for doing so.

     When the Apostle calls the Son of God "the express image of his person," (Heb. 1:3), he undoubtedly does assign to the Father some subsistence in which he differs from the Son. For to hold with some interpreters that the term is equivalent to essence (as if Christ represented the substance of the Father like the impression of a seal upon wax), were not only harsh but absurd. For the essence of God being simple and undivided, and contained in himself entire, in full perfection, without partition or diminution, it is improper, nay, ridiculous, to call it his express image (charakter). But because the Father, though distinguished by his own peculiar properties, has expressed himself wholly in the Son, he is said with perfect reason to have rendered his person (hypostasis) manifest in him. And this aptly accords with what is immediately added--viz. that he is "the brightness of his glory." The fair inference from the Apostle's words is, that there is a proper subsistence (hypostasis) of the Father, which shines refulgent in the Son. From this, again it is easy to infer that there is a subsistence (hypostasis) of the Son which distinguishes him from the Father. The same holds in the case of the Holy Spirit; for we will immediately prove both that he is God, and that he has a separate subsistence from the Father. This, moreover, is not a distinction of essence, which it were impious to multiply. If credit, then, is given to the Apostle's testimony, it follows that there are three persons (hypostases) in God. The Latins having used the word Persona to express the same thing as the Greek upo'statis, it betrays excessive fastidiousness and even perverseness to quarrel with the term. The most literal translation would be subsistence. Many have used substance in the same sense. Nor, indeed, was the use of the term Person confined to the Latin Church. For the Greek Church in like manner, perhaps, for the purpose of testifying their consent, have taught that there are three pro'sopa (aspects) in God. All these, however, whether Greeks or Latins, though differing as to the word, are perfectly agreed in substance.

     3. Now, then, though heretics may snarl and the excessively fastidious carp at the word Person as inadmissible, in consequence of its human origin, since they cannot displace us from our position that three are named, each of whom is perfect God, and yet that there is no plurality of gods, it is most uncandid to attack the terms which do nothing more than explain what the Scriptures declare and sanction. "It were better," they say, "to confine not only our meanings but our words within the bounds of Scripture, and not scatter about foreign terms to become the future seed-beds of brawls and dissensions. In this way, men grow tired of quarrels about words; the truth is lost in altercation, and charity melts away amid hateful strife." If they call it a foreign term, because it cannot be pointed out in Scripture in so many syllables, they certainly impose an unjust law--a law which would condemn every interpretation of Scripture that is not composed of other words of Scripture. But if by foreign they mean that which, after being idly devised, is superstitiously defended,--which tends more to strife than edification,--which is used either out of place, or with no benefit which offends pious ears by its harshness, and leads them away from the simplicity of God's Word, I embrace their soberness with all my heart. For I think we are bound to speak of God as reverently as we are bound to think of him. As our own thoughts respecting him are foolish, so our own language respecting him is absurd. Still, however, some medium must be observed. The unerring standard both of thinking and speaking must be derived from the Scriptures: by it all the thoughts of ours minds, and the words of our mouths, should he tested. But in regard to those parts of Scripture which, to our capacities, are dark and intricate, what forbids us to explain them in clearer terms--terms, however, kept in reverent and faithful subordination to Scripture truth, used sparingly and modestly, and not without occasion? Of this we are not without many examples. When it has been proved that the Church was impelled, by the strongest necessity, to use the words Trinity and Person, will not he who still inveighs against novelty of terms be deservedly suspected of taking offence at the light of truth, and of having no other ground for his invective, than that the truth is made plain and transparent?

     4. Such novelty (if novelty it should be called) becomes most requisite, when the truth is to be maintained against calumniators who evade it by quibbling. Of this, we of the present day have too much experience in being constantly called upon to attack the enemies of pure and sound doctrine. These slippery snakes escape by their swift and tortuous windings, if not strenuously pursued, and when caught, firmly held. Thus the early Christians, when harassed with the disputes which heresies produced, were forced to declare their sentiments in terms most scrupulously exact in order that no indirect subterfuges might remain to ungodly men, to whom ambiguity of expression was a kind of hiding-place. Arius confessed that Christ was God, and the Son of God; because the passages of Scripture to this effect were too clear to be resisted, and then, as if he had done well, pretended to concur with others. But, meanwhile, he ceased not to give out that Christ was created, and had a beginning like other creatures. To drag this man of wiles out of his lurking-places, the ancient Church took a further step, and declared that Christ is the eternal Son of the Father, and consubstantial with the Father. The impiety was fully disclosed when the Arians began to declare their hatred and utter detestation of the term omoou'sios. Had their first confession--viz. that Christ was God, been sincere and from the heart, they would not have denied that he was consubstantial with the Father. Who dare charge those ancient writers as men of strife and contention, for having debated so warmly, and disturbed the quiet of the Church for a single word? That little word distinguished between Christians of pure faith and the blasphemous Arians. Next Sabellius arose, who counted the names of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, as almost nonentities; maintaining that they were not used to mark out some distinction, but that they were different attributes of God, like many others of a similar kind. When the matter was debated, he acknowledged his belief that the Father was God, the Son God, the Spirit God; but then he had the evasion ready, that he had said nothing more than if he had called God powerful, and just, and wise. Accordingly, he sung another note--viz. that the Father was the Son, and the Holy Spirit the Father, without order or distinction. The worthy doctors who then had the interests of piety at heart, in order to defeat it is man's dishonesty, proclaimed that three subsistence were to be truly acknowledged in the one God. That they might protect themselves against tortuous craftiness by the simple open truth, they affirmed that a Trinity of Persons subsisted in the one God, or (which is the same thing) in the unity of God.

     5. Where names have not been invented rashly, we must beware lest we become chargeable with arrogance and rashness in rejecting them. I wish, indeed, that such names were buried, provided all would concur in the belief that the Father, Son, and Spirit, are one God, and yet that the Son is not the Father, nor the Spirit the Son, but that each has his peculiar subsistence. I am not so minutely precise as to fight furiously for mere words. For I observe, that the writers of the ancient Church, while they uniformly spoke with great reverence on these matters, neither agreed with each other, nor were always consistent with themselves. How strange the formula used by Councils, and defended by Hilary! How extravagant the view which Augustine sometimes takes! How unlike the Greeks are to the Latins! But let one example of variance suffice. The Latins, in translating omoou'sios used consubstantialis (consubstantial), intimating that there was one substance of the Father and the Son, and thus using the word Substance for Essence. Hence Jerome, in his Letter to Damasus, says it is profane to affirm that there are three substances in God. But in Hilary you will find it said more than a hundred times that there are three substances in God. Then how greatly is Jerome perplexed with the word Hypostasis! He suspects some lurking poison, when it is said that there are three Hypostases in God. And he does not disguise his belief that the expression, though used in a pious sense, is improper; if, indeed, he was sincere in saying this, and did not rather designedly endeavour, by an unfounded calumny, to throw odium on the Eastern bishops whom he hated. He certainly shows little candour in asserting, that in all heathen schools ousi'a is equivalent to Hypostasis--an assertion completely refuted by trite and common use.

     More courtesy and moderation is shown by Augustine (De Trinit. lib. 5 c. 8 and 9), who, although he says that Hypostasis in this sense is new to Latin ears, is still so far from objecting to the ordinary use of the term by the Greeks, that he is even tolerant of the Latins, who had imitated the Greek phraseology. The purport of what Socrates says of the term, in the Sixth Book of the Tripartite History, is, that it had been improperly applied to this purpose by the unskilful. Hilary (De Trinitat. lib. 2) charges it upon the heretics as a great crime, that their misconduct had rendered it necessary to subject to the peril of human utterance things which ought to have been reverently confined within the mind, not disguising his opinion that those who do so, do what is unlawful, speak what is ineffable, and pry into what is forbidden. Shortly after, he apologises at great length for presuming to introduce new terms. For, after putting down the natural names of Father, Son, and Spirit, he adds, that all further inquiry transcends the significance of words, the discernment of sense, and the apprehension of intellect. And in another place (De Conciliis), he congratulates the Bishops of France in not having framed any other confession, but received, without alteration, the ancient and most simple confession received by all Churches from the days of the Apostles. Not unlike this is the apology of Augustine, that the term had been wrung from him by necessity from the poverty of human language in so high a matter: not that the reality could be thereby expressed, but that he might not pass on in silence without attempting to show how the Father, Son, and Spirit, are three.

     The modesty of these holy men should be an admonition to us not instantly to dip our pen in gall, and sternly denounce those who may be unwilling to swear to the terms which we have devised, provided they do not in this betray pride, or petulance, or unbecoming heat, but are willing to ponder the necessity which compels us so to speak, and may thus become gradually accustomed to a useful form of expression. Let men also studiously beware, that in opposing the Arians on the one hand, and the Sabellians on the other, and eagerly endeavouring to deprive both of any handle for cavil, they do not bring themselves under some suspicion of being the disciples of either Arius or Sabellius. Arius says that Christ is God, and then mutters that he was made and had a beginning. He says, that he is one with the Father; but secretly whispers in the ears of his party, made one, like other believers, though with special privilege. Say, he is consubstantial, and you immediately pluck the mask from this chameleon, though you add nothing to Scripture. Sabellius says that the Father, Son, and Spirit, indicate some distinction in God. Say, they are three, and he will bawl out that you are making three Gods. Say, that there is a Trinity of Persons in one Divine essence, you will only express in one word what the Scriptures say, and stop his empty prattle. Should any be so superstitiously precise as not to tolerate these terms, still do their worst, they will not be able to deny that when one is spoken of, a unity of substance must be understood, and when three in one essence, the persons in this Trinity are denoted. When this is confessed without equivocations we dwell not on words. But I was long ago made aware, and, indeed, on more than one occasion, that those who contend pertinaciously about words are tainted with some hidden poison; and, therefore, that it is more expedient to provoke them purposely, than to court their favour by speaking obscurely.

     6. But to say nothing more of words, let us now attend to the thing signified. By person, then, I mean a subsistence in the Divine essence,--a subsistence which, while related to the other two, is distinguished from them by incommunicable properties. By subsistence we wish something else to be understood than essence. For if the Word were God simply and had not some property peculiar to himself, John could not have said correctly that he had always been with God. When he adds immediately after, that the Word was God, he calls us back to the one essence. But because he could not be with God without dwelling in the Father, hence arises that subsistence, which, though connected with the essence by an indissoluble tie, being incapable of separation, yet has a special mark by which it is distinguished from it. Now, I say that each of the three subsistences while related to the others is distinguished by its own properties. Here relation is distinctly expressed, because, when God is mentioned simply and indefinitely the name belongs not less to the Son and Spirit than to the Father. But whenever the Father is compared with the Son, the peculiar property of each distinguishes the one from the other. Again, whatever is proper to each I affirm to be incommunicable, because nothing can apply or be transferred to the Son which is attributed to the Father as a mark of distinction. I have no objections to adopt the definition of Tertullian, provided it is properly understood, "that there is in God a certain arrangement or economy, which makes no change on the unity of essence."--Tertull. Lib. contra Praxeam.

     7. Before proceeding farther, it will be necessary to prove the divinity of the Son and the Holy Spirit. Thereafter, we shall see how they differ from each other. When the Word of God is set before us in the Scriptures, it were certainly most absurd to imagine that it is only a fleeting and evanescent voice, which is sent out into the air, and comes forth beyond God himself, as was the case with the communications made to the patriarchs, and all the prophecies. The reference is rather to the wisdom ever dwelling with God, and by which all oracles and prophecies were inspired. For, as Peter testifies (1 Pet. 1:11), the ancient prophets spake by the Spirit of Christ just as did the apostles, and all who after them were ministers of the heavenly doctrine. But as Christ was not yet manifested, we necessarily understand that the Word was begotten of the Father before all ages. But if that Spirit, whose organs the prophets were, belonged to the Word, the inference is irresistible, that the Word was truly God. And this is clearly enough shown by Moses in his account of the creation, where he places the Word as intermediate. For why does he distinctly narrate that God, in creating each of his works, said, Let there be this--let there be that, unless that the unsearchable glory of God might shine forth in his image? I know prattlers would easily evade this, by saying that Word is used for order or command; but the apostles are better expositors, when they tell us that the worlds were created by the Son, and that he sustains all things by his mighty word (Heb. 1:2). For we here see that word is used for the nod or command of the Son, who is himself the eternal and essential Word of the Father. And no man of sane mind can have any doubt as to Solomon's meaning, when he introduces Wisdom as begotten by God, and presiding at the creation of the world, and all other divine operations (Prov. 8:22). For it were trifling and foolish to imagine any temporary command at a time when God was pleased to execute his fixed and eternal counsel, and something more still mysterious. To this our Saviour's words refer, "My Father worketh hitherto, and I work," (John 5:17). In thus affirming, that from the foundation of the world he constantly worked with the Father, he gives a clearer explanation of what Moses simply touched. The meaning therefore is, that God spoke in such a manner as left the Word his peculiar part in the work, and thus made the operation common to both. But the clearest explanation is given by John, when he states that the Word--which was from the beginning, God and with God, was, together with God the Father, the maker of all things. For he both attributes a substantial and permanent essence to the Word, assigning to it a certain peculiarity, and distinctly showing how God spoke the world into being. Therefore, as all revelations from heaven are duly designated by the title of the Word of God, so the highest place must be assigned to that substantial Word, the source of all inspiration, which, as being liable to no variation, remains for ever one and the same with God, and is God.

     8. Here an outcry is made by certain men, who, while they dare not openly deny his divinity, secretly rob him of his eternity. For they contend that the Word only began to be when God opened his sacred mouth in the creation of the world. Thus, with excessive temerity, they imagine some change in the essence of God. For as the names of God, which have respect to external work, began to be ascribed to him from the existence of the work (as when he is called the Creator of heaven and earth), so piety does not recognise or admit any name which might indicate that a change had taken place in God himself. For if any thing adventitious took place, the saying of James would cease to be true, that "every good gift, and every perfect gift, is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning," (James 1:17). Nothing, therefore, is more intolerable than to fancy a beginning to that Word which was always God, and afterwards was the Creator of the world. But they think they argue acutely, in maintaining that Moses, when he says that God then spoke for the first time, must be held to intimate that till then no Word existed in him. This is the merest trifling. It does not surely follow, that because a thing begins to be manifested at a certain time, it never existed previously. I draw a very different conclusion. Since at the very moment when God said, "Let there be light," the energy of the Word-was immediately exerted, it must have existed long before. If any inquire how long, he will find it was without beginning. No certain period of time is defined, when he himself says, "Now O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was," (John 17:5). Nor is this omitted by John: for before he descends to the creation of the world, he says, that "in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God." We, therefore, again conclude, that the Word was eternally begotten by God, and dwelt with him from everlasting. In this way, his true essence, his eternity, and divinity, are established.

     9. But though I am not now treating of the office of the Mediator, having deferred it till the subject of redemption is considered, yet because it ought to be clear and incontrovertible to all, that Christ is that Word become incarnate, this seems the most appropriate place to introduce those passages which assert the Divinity of Christ. When it is said in the forty-fifth Psalm, "Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever," the Jews quibble that the name Elohim is applied to angels and sovereign powers. But no passage is to be found in Scripture, where an eternal throne is set up for a creature. For he is not called God simply, but also the eternal Ruler. Besides, the title is not conferred on any man, without some addition, as when it is said that Moses would be a God to Pharaoh (Exod. 7:1). Some read as if it were in the genitive case, but this is too insipid. I admit, that anything possessed of singular excellence is often called divine, but it is clear from the context, that this meaning here were harsh and forced, and totally inapplicable. But if their perverseness still refuses to yield, surely there is no obscurity in Isaiah, where Christ is introduced both us God, and as possessed of supreme powers one of the peculiar attributes of God, "His name shall be called the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace," (Isa. 9:6). Here, too, the Jews object, and invert the passage thus, This is the name by which the mighty God, the Everlasting Father, will call him; so that all which they leave to the Son is, " Prince of Peace." But why should so many epithets be here accumulated on God the Father, seeing the prophet's design is to present the Messiah with certain distinguished properties which may induce us to put our faith in him? There can be no doubt, therefore, that he who a little before was called Emmanuel, is here called the Mighty God. Moreover, there can be nothing clearer than the words of Jeremiah, "This is the name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS," (Jer. 23:6). For as the Jews themselves teach that the other names of God are mere epithets, whereas this, which they call the ineffable name, is substantive, and expresses his essence, we infer, that the only begotten Son is the eternal God, who elsewhere declares, "My glory will I not give to another," (Isa. 42:8). An attempt is made to evade this from the fact, that this name is given by Moses to the altar which he built, and by Ezekiel to the New Jerusalem. But who sees not that the altar was erected as a memorial to show that God was the exalter of Moses, and that the name of God was applied to Jerusalem, merely to testify the Divine presence? For thus the prophet speaks, "The name of the city from that day shall be, The Lord is there," (Ezek. 48:35). In the same way, "Moses built an altar, and called the name of it JEHOVAH-nissi," (Jehovah my exaltation). But it would seem the point is still more keenly disputed as to another passage in Jeremiah, where the same title is applied to Jerusalem in these words, "In those days shall Judah be saved, and Jerusalem shall dwell safely; and this is the name wherewith she shall be called, The Lord our Righteousness." But so far is this passage from being adverse to the truth which we defend, that it rather supports it. The prophet having formerly declared that Christ is the true Jehovah from whom righteousness flows, now declares that the Church would be made so sensible of this as to be able to glory in assuming his very name. In the former passage, therefore, the fountain and cause of righteousness is set down, in the latter, the effect is described.

     Christian Classics Ethereal Library / Public Domain

     Institutes of the Christian Religion

Trinity and Authority (Part One of Five)

By Malcolm and Karen Yarnell 6/2016

     My wife, Karen, is a close and careful reader of Scripture, and some of our greatest joys occur when we discuss the proper interpretation of the authoritative Word of God. Karen is also a close reader of Dietrich Bonhoeffer on the Trinity, since she is writing a thesis on that subject under the supervision of Gerardo Alfaro. Bonhoeffer's innovative if incomplete ruminations on the Trinity have shaped the contemporary discussion in a profound, if largely unrecognized, way.

     One particular question with which we have been struggling is exactly how creation in the image of God (Gen 1:26-27) is to be seen in our marriage. What does it mean that there is an analogia relationis (Bonhoeffer's term) between the triune God and his image in humanity, especially in the relation of a man and his wife? Little were we to realize that a conversation with parallels to our own questions about Trinity and relation would explode in controversy on the web in recent weeks.

     We bring forward this essay as a small contribution to that huge and fruitful, if sometimes tense, discussion. Before beginning, please allow a few caveats.

     First, this is not intended to be an academic presentation, though it draws on academic work we performed together and individually. We have opted to speak freely in summary rather than with scholastic detail in order to allow the general reader some access to this discussion.

     Second, the issue of authority is not our foremost concern with regard to the Trinity. Malcolm recently wrote a book, God the Trinity: Biblical Portraits, in which he lightly touches on the current issue. His foremost concern, demonstrated at length there, is knowing who God is through his revelation so we might worship him truly. Likewise, Karen studies the Trinity, not for speculative anthropological reasons but to help her lead women and children to worship God in mind, heart, and deed.

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     Malcolm B. Yarnell III was born in upstate New York, grew up in numerous North and Central American subcultures, and became a Southern Baptist minister, holding church pastorates in Texas, Louisiana, and North Carolina. After receiving degrees from Louisiana State University (BS-Finance), Southwestern Seminary (MDivBL), Duke University (ThM), and the University of Oxford (DPhil), he served as a faculty member at Southwestern Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, and academic dean at Midwestern Seminary in Kansas City, Missouri.

     Yarnell is a prolific author. His latest book, God the Trinity: Biblical Portraits, was published by B&H Academic in April 2016. His most widely reviewed volume, on historical and theological method, is The Formation of Christian Doctrine (2007). He is also the author of Royal Priesthood in the English Reformation, released by Oxford University Press in 2014, and The Anabaptists and Contemporary Baptists, a Festschrift honoring Paige Patterson, released in 2013. Yarnell has contributed over 100 essays to academic journals and books published in America, England, France, and Nigeria, as well as in more popular venues. He was also the longest-serving editor of the nearly century-old Southwestern Journal of Theology, and has edited four academic books. His next two monographs are provisionally entitled Popular Theology and The Image of the Trinity, the latter of which will serve as the third volume in his Systematic Theology.

     While traveling to lecture in universities worldwide (including in recent years, Canada, China, England, France, Germany, Kenya, Russia, Scotland, and the Ukraine), Yarnell is a fellow in research institutes and a member of editorial boards in Fort Worth, Nashville, New Orleans, Oxford, and Bonn. He has been involved for over a decade in a series of Evangelical-Catholic Theological Conversations in St. Paul, Minnesota, and formerly served as a leading member of the Baptist World Alliance-Anglican Communion Theological Conversations. He has served as a trustee for the Evangelical Theological Seminary in Wroclaw, Poland for the last five years.

     Malcolm currently resides with his family of seven in Fort Worth, Texas, where he is Research Professor of Systematic Theology at Southwestern Seminary. His weekly passion is to lead the Sunday morning Men's Bible Study at Birchman Baptist Church. He preaches the gospel regularly in churches and conferences, and has recently led church conferences in the Cayman Islands, England, France, and Germany.

Malcolm Yarnell Books:

Trinity and Authority (Part Two of Five)

By Malcolm and Karen Yarnell 6/2016

     Having defined the controversy between complementarian Trinitarians according to the positive positions each side takes, we now consider the particulars that have led to argument and anathema. We will then devote some attention to the theological strategies of the eternal relations of authority theologians. After reviewing the use of analogy in the debate, our final post will build on these judgments as it proposes a way forward.

     The Eternal Relations Of Authority And Its Detractors

     The accusations that have been drawn up against the eternal relations of authority theologians have centered on their primary idea that the Father and the Son have distinct movements of authority. So, what is the problem with saying that the Son is eternally submissive to the Father? To set the ground, let us hear from at least one ERA theologian, arguably the primary leader among them, Wayne Grudem.

     Grudem's Formula | For a quick introduction, consult Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine, where he argues the language of generation or begetting was a "misunderstanding" in the early church later corrected by twentieth-century Greek scholarship (Bible Doctrine: Essential Teachings of the Christian Faith). Deprived of the language of generation by modern scholarship, Grudem turned to a different terminology to arrive at "the only distinctions between the members of the Trinity" (117).

     The necessary distinctions now reside in "the way they relate to each other and to the creation." Thus, in order to maintain the oneness and the threeness of God, Grudem's slogan becomes, "ontological equality but economic subordination" or "equal in being but subordinate in role." Of course, economy refers to God's relation to creation, so in an apparent effort to retain the eternal nature of divine distinctions, Grudem adds that the divine persons exhibit an "eternal subordination in role" (my italics; 117, cf. 114n4).

Click here to go to source

     Malcolm B. Yarnell III was born in upstate New York, grew up in numerous North and Central American subcultures, and became a Southern Baptist minister, holding church pastorates in Texas, Louisiana, and North Carolina. After receiving degrees from Louisiana State University (BS-Finance), Southwestern Seminary (MDivBL), Duke University (ThM), and the University of Oxford (DPhil), he served as a faculty member at Southwestern Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, and academic dean at Midwestern Seminary in Kansas City, Missouri.

     Yarnell is a prolific author. His latest book, God the Trinity: Biblical Portraits, was published by B&H Academic in April 2016. His most widely reviewed volume, on historical and theological method, is The Formation of Christian Doctrine (2007). He is also the author of Royal Priesthood in the English Reformation, released by Oxford University Press in 2014, and The Anabaptists and Contemporary Baptists, a Festschrift honoring Paige Patterson, released in 2013. Yarnell has contributed over 100 essays to academic journals and books published in America, England, France, and Nigeria, as well as in more popular venues. He was also the longest-serving editor of the nearly century-old Southwestern Journal of Theology, and has edited four academic books. His next two monographs are provisionally entitled Popular Theology and The Image of the Trinity, the latter of which will serve as the third volume in his Systematic Theology.

     While traveling to lecture in universities worldwide (including in recent years, Canada, China, England, France, Germany, Kenya, Russia, Scotland, and the Ukraine), Yarnell is a fellow in research institutes and a member of editorial boards in Fort Worth, Nashville, New Orleans, Oxford, and Bonn. He has been involved for over a decade in a series of Evangelical-Catholic Theological Conversations in St. Paul, Minnesota, and formerly served as a leading member of the Baptist World Alliance-Anglican Communion Theological Conversations. He has served as a trustee for the Evangelical Theological Seminary in Wroclaw, Poland for the last five years.

     Malcolm currently resides with his family of seven in Fort Worth, Texas, where he is Research Professor of Systematic Theology at Southwestern Seminary. His weekly passion is to lead the Sunday morning Men's Bible Study at Birchman Baptist Church. He preaches the gospel regularly in churches and conferences, and has recently led church conferences in the Cayman Islands, England, France, and Germany.

Malcolm Yarnell Books:

The French Government Might Jail Pro-Life Advocates

By Jacob Bojesson 12/03/16

     The French government is about to criminalize information websites that “exert psychological or moral pressure” on pregnant women to not go through with an abortion.

     The bill passed the French National Assembly and will now need approval from the senate before becoming law. It was introduced to stop websites with a seemingly neutral stance on the issue from promoting “anti-abortion propaganda.”

     Breaking the law would result in up to two years in prison and a 30,000 euro ($32,000) fine.

     Women’s Minister Laurence Rossignol told parliament the legislation isn’t meant to clamp down on the pro-life stance in general, but rather to stop websites from “manipulating people.” Catholics around the country disagree and claim the bill is a threat to freedom of expression.

     Abortion became a hot topic when a commercial to commemorate World Down Syndrome Day was banned. The commercial featured happy children with down syndrome cheering a positive message to future mothers. The French Council of State, the country’s highest administrative court, upheld the ban in November, saying it could “disturb the conscience” of French women who have aborted down syndrome fetuses.

https://stream.org/french-government-might-jail-pro-life-advocates/?utm_content=buffer87706&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=bufferClick   here to go to source

     Jacob Bojesson is a foreign correspondent for the Daily Caller News Foundation.

The Early Text of the NT Now Available In UK

By Michael J. Kruger 06/20/2012

     I just heard from the folks at Oxford University Press this week and they indicated that the volume edited by Chuck Hill and myself, The Early Text of the New Testament, is now available in the UK. Unfortunately, like many Oxford volumes, it is a bit pricey at 90 pounds ($175). Ouch. But, hopefully some major research libraries will pick it up (and some scholars with a generous book budget!). The book is available in the US in August.

     Here is a blurb from the back cover and the table of contents:

     The Early Text of the New Testament aims to examine and assess from our earliest extant sources the most primitive state of the New Testament text now known. What sort of changes did scribes make to the text? What is the quality of the text now at our disposal? What can we learn about the nature of textual transmission in the earliest centuries? In addition to exploring the textual and scribal culture of early Christianity, this volume explores the textual evidence for all the sections of the New Testament. It also examines the evidence from the earliest translations of New Testament writings and the citations or allusions to New Testament texts in other early Christian writers.

     Introduction: In Search of the Earliest Text of the New Testament - Charles E. Hill and Michael J. Kruger

     I. The Textual and Scribal Culture of Early Christianity

     1. The Book Trade in the Roman Empire - Harry Y. Gamble

     2. Indicators of ‘Catholicity’ in Early Gospel Manuscripts. - Scott Charlesworth

     3. Towards a Sociology of Reading in Early Christianity - Larry Hurtado

     4. Early Christian Attitudes towards the Reproduction of Texts - Michael J. Kruger

II. The Manuscript Tradition

     5. The Early Text of Matthew - Tommy Wasserman

     6. The Early Text of Mark - Peter Head

     7. The Early Text of Luke - Juan Hernández

     8. The Early Text of John - Juan Chapa

     9. The Early Text of Acts - Christopher Tuckett

     10. The Early Text of Paul (and Hebrews) - James R. Royse

     11. The Early Text of the Catholic Epistles - J. K. Elliott

     12. The Early Text of Revelation - Tobias Nicklas

     13. ‘Where Two or Three are Gathered Together’: The Witness of the Early Versions - Peter Williams

III. Early Citation and Use of New Testament Writings

     14. ‘In These Very Words’. Methods and Standards of Literary Borrowing in the Second Century - Charles E. Hill

     15. The Text of the New Testament in the Apostolic Fathers - Paul Foster

     16. Marcion and the Early New Testament Text - Dieter T. Roth

     17. Justin’s Text of the Gospels. Another Look at the Citations in 1 Apol. 15.1–8 - Joseph Verheyden

     18. Tatian’s Diatessaron and the Greek Text of the Gospels - Tjitze Baarda

     19. Early Apocryphal Gospels and the New Testament Text - Stanley E. Porter

     20. Irenaeus’s Text of the Gospels in Adversus haereses - D. Jeffrey Bingham and Billy R. Todd, Jr.

     21. Clement of Alexandria’s Gospel Citations - Carl P. Cosaert

Click here to go to source

     Michael J. Kruger, President and Samuel C. Patterson Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at Reformed Theological Seminary, Charlotte, NC.  For more on my background and research interests, see here.

Michael J. Kruger Books

Canon Revisited: Establishing the Origins and Authority of the New Testament Books
The Question of Canon: Challenging the Status Quo in the New Testament Debate
A Biblical-Theological Introduction to the New Testament: The Gospel Realized
The Heresy of Orthodoxy: How Contemporary Culture's Fascination with Diversity Has Reshaped Our Understanding of Early Christianity
The Early Text of the New Testament

Texas Abortion Providers Will be Required to Bury or Cremate Aborted Babies, Abortionists React

By Dustin Siggins 11/30/2016

     The bodies of aborted children in Texas must be buried or cremated, according to a new rule adopted by the state’s Department of Health and Human Services. The rule, proposed by Gov. Greg Abbot in July, goes into effect on December 19th.

     The rule essentially requires that the remains be treated like any other person’s remains, and prohibits their being disposed of in a landfill or by grinding up the bodies and discharging them into the sewer system. “I believe it is imperative to establish higher standards that reflect our respect for the sanctity of life,” Abbot said in an email.

     Their bodies can no longer disposed of in the same way as what the New York Timescalled “other forms of biological medical waste.” The rules added provisions to the existing code, “that afford protection and dignity to the unborn consistent with the Legislature’s expression of its intent,” according to the preamble to the rules.

     The new rules covers the bodies of children who miscarry in a hospital. It exempts parents who miscarry or abort children at home.

     Abbot has also called for other changes in the law to protect the bodies of aborted children. In his 2016 Report to the People of Texas, Abbot had called for making “partial-birth abortion a felony in Texas” and also making it “illegal for doctors to risk a woman’s health by altering abortion procedures to preserve fetal body parts.” He added “we must criminalize any sale or transaction of fetal body parts or tissue in Texas by an abortion clinic for any purpose.”

Click here to go to source

Dustin Siggins is Associate Editor for The Stream. He previously served as the public relations officer and DC Correspondent for LifeSiteNews, and has been widely published on important issues of public policy and culture. Follow him on Twitter: @DustinSiggins

Did Paul Himself Create the Very First New Testament Canon?

By Michael J. Kruger 05/16/2012

     Let’s just admit it. We rarely pay attention to the final greetings that Paul offers at the end of his letters. Such personal statements are, well, too personal — they just don’t seem meant for us. However, our unfortunate neglect of these passages can leave a variety of treasures undiscovered. One such passage may even bring unexpected illumination about the origins of the New Testament canon.

     In  2 Tim 4:13 Paul says to Timothy,  “When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, also the books, and above all the parchments.” Paul makes a curious distinction here between “the books” (ta biblia) and “the parchments” (tas membranas), suggesting they are two different kinds of writings. Scholars widely regard the first of these as a reference to books of the Old Testament, most likely on scrolls. We do not know how many of these Old Testament books Paul had in mind, but it must have been limited to a reasonable number that Timothy could have borne during his travels.

     But, what is Paul referring to when he mentions “the parchments”? The term membranas is significant because it is not a Greek word, but a loan word transliterated from the Latin membrana. The history of this term in the first century makes it clear that it is a reference to a parchment codex. The codex book format was different than that of a scroll. Whereas the latter had writing on only one side (and was rolled up to protect that writing), the codex had writing on both sides of the page and was bound at the spine — like our traditional leaf books today. What is interesting about early Christians is that they vastly preferred the codex book format over the scroll even though both the Jewish world and the Greco-Roman world preferred the scroll. Indeed, the reason for the widespread and early use of the codex amongst Christians is a great mystery that scholars have sought to solve for a very long time.

     As for the content of the codices which Paul mentions in  2 Tim 4:13, a number of suggestions have been made over the years. Given that Paul distinguishes these codices from the Old Testament writings, many scholars have rightly argued that they likely contained some sort of Christian writings. This may have included a variety of things such as excerpts of Jesus’ teachings or early Christian testimonia (Old Testament proof texts supporting Messianic claims about Jesus). Given the fact that Paul appears to cite Luke’s gospel elsewhere ( 1 Tim 5:18 ), and has an established relationship with Luke ( Col 4:14, 2 Tim 4:11, we must even consider the possibility that these codices contained the gospel of  Luke .

     However, one of the most compelling possibilities is that these notebooks contained (among other things) copies of Paul’s own letters. It was not at all unusual in the Greco-Roman world to keep copies of (and even publish) one’s own letters. Cicero exemplifies this practice as his personal secretary, Tiro, kept extensive copies of his letters. Cicero would occasionally receive a complaint from friends that one of their letters (from Cicero) was lost or damaged; on such occasions Cicero would quickly dispatch a replacement copy from his own collection. And where did Cicero make/keep copies of his letters? He tells us: “I am jotting down a copy of this letter into my notebook.” In other words, Cicero kept copies of his letters in a codex.

     If these “parchments” in  2 Tim 4:13 contained copies of Paul’s letters in a codex, then this opens up fresh insights in the development of the New Testament canon. Such a scenario might begin to answer the question of why early Christians preferred the codex over the scroll. Since Paul had already begun to use the codex to contain his letters it is not difficult to imagine that early Christians would have retained that format when it became desirable to circulate a defined Pauline letter collection more broadly to the churches. Moreover, this scenario provides a compelling explanation for why some letters of Paul were preserved for the church and some letters were ultimately lost ( 1 Cor 5:9 . The answer appears to be that some letters were lost because Paul, for whatever reasons, did not make a personal copy of them before sending them out. Thus, they were not available when Paul’s completed letter collection was circulating more broadly to the churches.

     Most importantly,  2 Tim 4:13 provides additional support to the idea that, at a very early time period, Christians conceived of their religious writings in two parts: the Old Testament writings (ta biblia) and their Christian writings (tas membranas). In Paul’s day the latter would have still been fairly undefined, including not only copies of his own letters, but possibly excerpts of Jesus tradition, Christian testimonia, and the like. However, even though the content was undefined, there are hints here of a “proto-canon” of sorts, where valuable Christians texts are gathered into one place, in the form of a codex, with some even written by apostles.

     If so, then perhaps the beginnings of the New Testament canon can be traced back to Paul himself.

Click here to go to source

     Michael J. Kruger, President and Samuel C. Patterson Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at Reformed Theological Seminary, Charlotte, NC.  For more on my background and research interests, see here.

Michael J. Kruger Books

Canon Revisited: Establishing the Origins and Authority of the New Testament Books
The Question of Canon: Challenging the Status Quo in the New Testament Debate
A Biblical-Theological Introduction to the New Testament: The Gospel Realized
The Heresy of Orthodoxy: How Contemporary Culture's Fascination with Diversity Has Reshaped Our Understanding of Early Christianity
The Early Text of the New Testament

Read The Psalms In "1" Year

Psalm 136

His Steadfast Love Endures Forever
136 Give Thanks To The LORD

136:7 to him who made the great lights,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
8 the sun to rule over the day,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
9 the moon and stars to rule over the night,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
10 to him who struck down the firstborn of Egypt,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
11 and brought Israel out from among them,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
12 with a strong hand and an outstretched arm,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
13 to him who divided the Red Sea in two,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
14 and made Israel pass through the midst of it,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
15 but overthrew Pharaoh and his host in the Red Sea,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
16 to him who led his people through the wilderness,
for his steadfast love endures forever;

ESV Study Bible

Supernatural Friendship

By Ryan Townsend 7/01/2016

     One of my favorite songs in high school was U2’s “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.”

     It captured my youthful angst and dissatisfaction in this world and its friendships. Now, I had a great childhood, and I’ve always been a happy extrovert. But I wasn’t raised in a Christian home, and never experienced the full joy of Christian fellowship until I found Jesus—in a local, evangelical church on Capitol Hill, when I was twenty-three years old. God used friendships in this church to bring me to Christ (Matt. 5:16). Then, the Lord used (and is using) these relationships to help me grow in Christ (Col. 1:28). This has been the greatest existential joy I’ve experienced here on earth (Ps. 34:8). It makes my heart long for heaven, where we will have unending, joy-filled fellowship with God and all believers (Rev. 21:3). So, friendship is deeply important for the Christian life and ministry. And the church is foundational in all this. Here are three reasons why.

Blood-Bought Fellowship

     The Apostle John tells us, “If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7). This verse captures the relationship between the gospel, the church, and friendship. The blood of Jesus cleanses us from our sins, and we have genuine, joy-filled fellowship with God and with one another—if we walk in the light, that is; if we repent of our sins and believe in Jesus. This means that the church is a blood-bought community that grounds us in real relationship—with our Creator and with one another. It gives us real friendships that are unlike any other.

     Biblical friendship, then, is a committed love that unites us in fellowship and allows us to finish the race and fight for faith together, through Christ who strengthens us (Phil. 4:13). And a local church is the gospel setting in which these friendships take place and allow God’s love to reverberate into the world. The church is the community where we serve King Jesus and learn to walk in a manner worthy of Christ—together, with friends. This community thereby allows us to encourage and exhort one another in the faith through the friendships it creates.

Encouragement and Exhortation

     During high school, I visited England. We were driving one afternoon in the country, and I remember seeing a flock of sheep for the first time in my life, stumbling down the road right in front of us. I had never seen sheep so closely before. I thought sheep were white, but they’re not. Up close, they’re dirty—and messy and stupid. Some were falling into the ditch by the roadside; some were going the wrong way and biting at each other. But after ten minutes or so, with the help of the shepherds and the sheepdogs, they all made it home safely to the sheepfold.

     In the same way, stronger and weaker Christians need one another—for love, discipleship, and encouragement. You see, we’re often like those sheep. We snap at one another and are easily swayed off the path. We fall into ditches and go the wrong way, but, by God’s grace, by being together in a flock, we can make it down the road.

     This means we’re better stuck in the middle of the flock, even if it inconveniences our lives now. Why? If you know your own heart well, you know that it is actually more dangerous to be alone or on the edge of the flock because we’re prone to wander. Older men and women in the faith are commanded by Paul to disciple and encourage younger Christians (Titus 2). Younger Christians are also called to care for and love older Christians. That means that in the church, there is no such thing as an individualistic Christian. God has bound us together as one body in Christ and commanded us to care for one another (Heb. 10:24–25).

     By joining a local church, stronger and weaker Christians make their love for Christ definite by loving others in a committed fashion. These friendships become the instrument that enables us to:

     love one another deeply and sacrificially (Rom. 12:13-16);      assemble regularly with one another (Heb. 10:25);      encourage one another (Heb. 10:24); and guard one another (Heb. 13:17).      Encouragement is a powerful antidote to unbelief. And friendships are a great gift of God that bring us together in covenant love.

     By God’s grace, they enable us to carry out the countless “one another” commands and make disciples who image His holy, pure, unified, and loving wisdom (Eph. 3:10). This brings us to the third reason why friendships are important to the Christian life.

A Display of God’s Glory

     When Christians covenant together in genuine fellowship, these friendships image God well and put His character on display as the gospel unites people across great barriers amid great diversity.

     In his book Love in Hard Places, D.A. Carson tells us:

     Ideally . . . the church itself is not made up of natural “friends.” It is made up of natural enemies. What binds us together is not common education, common race, common income levels, common politics, common ancestry, common accents, common jobs, or anything else of that sort. . . . In this light, they are a band of natural enemies who love one another for Jesus’ sake.

     We sacrifice our comforts, preferences, resources, time, and habits to help foster unity in diversity, and serve as a picture of supernatural, God-glorifying friendships that image God in our communities, commend the gospel, and bring joyful satisfaction and blessing in our own lives.

     So, ultimately, friendships are important for the Christian life and ministry because they create a supernatural, compelling community that displays and protects the gospel, transforms lives and communities, and shines as a beacon of hope in a dark world. This is God’s plan for the local church (Eph. 2:13–3:21), and He carries it out for our good and His glory.

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     Ryan Townsend is executive director of 9Marks in Washington, D.C.

Fox's Book Of Martyrs (Chapter 17)

By John Foxe 1563

Rise and Progress of the Protestant Religion in Ireland; with an Account of the Barbarous Massacre of 1641

     The gloom of popery had overshadowed Ireland from its first establishment there until the reign of Henry VIII when the rays of the Gospel began to dispel the darkness, and afford that light which until then had been unknown in that island. The abject ignorance in which the people were held, with the absurd and superstitious notions they entertained, were sufficiently evident to many; and the artifices of their priests were so conspicuous, that several persons of distinction, who had hitherto been strenuous papists, would willingly have endeavored to shake off the yoke, and embrace the Protestant religion; but the natural ferocity of the people, and their strong attachment to the ridiculous doctrines which they had been taught, made the attempt dangerous. It was, however, at length undertaken, though attended with the most horrid and disastrous consequences.

     The introduction of the Protestant religion into Ireland may be principally attributed to George Browne, an Englishman, who was consecrated archbishop of Dublin on the nineteenth of March, 1535. He had formerly been an Augustine friar, and was promoted to the mitre on account of his merit.

     After having enjoyed his dignity about five years, he, at the time that Henry VIII was suppressing the religious houses in England, caused all the relics and images to be removed out of the two cathedrals in Dublin, and the other churches in his diocese; in the place of which he caused to be put up the Lord's Prayer, the Creed, and the Ten Commandments.

     A short time after this he received a letter from Thomas Cromwell, lord-privy seal, informing him that Henry VIII having thrown off the papal supremacy in England, was determined to do the like in Ireland; and that he thereupon had appointed him (Archbishop Browne) one of the commissioners for seeing this order put in execution. The archbishop answered that he had employed his utmost endeavors at the hazard of his life, to cause the Irish nobility and gentry to acknowledge Henry as their supreme head, in matters both spiritual and temporal; but had met with a most violent opposition, especially from George, archbishop of Armagh; that this prelate had, in a speech to his clergy, laid a curse on all those who should own his highness' supremacy: adding, that their isle, called in the Chronicles Insula Sacra, or the Holy Island, belonged to none but the bishop of Rome, and that the king's progenitors had received it from the pope. He observed likewise, that the archbishop and clergy of Armagh had each despatched a courier to Rome; and that it would be necessary for a parliament to be called in Ireland, to pass an act of supremacy, the people not regarding the king's commission without the sanction of the legislative assembly. He concluded with observing, that the popes had kept the people in the most profound ignorance; that the clergy were exceedingly illiterate; that the common people were more zealous in their blindness than the saints and martyrs had been in the defence of truth at the beginning of the Gospel; and that it was to be feared that Shan O'Neal, a chieftain of great power in the northern part of the island, was decidedly opposed to the king's commission.

     In pursuance of this advice, the following year a parliament was summoned to meet at Dublin, by order of Leonard Grey, at that time lord-lieutenant. At this assembly Archbishop Browne made a speech, in which he set forth that the bishops of Rome used, anciently, to acknowledge emperors, kings, and princes, to be supreme in their own dominions; and, therefore, that he himself would vote King Henry VIII as supreme in all matters, both ecclesiastical and temporal. He concluded with saying that whosoever should refuse to vote for this act, was not a true subject of the king. This speech greatly startled the other bishops and lords; but at length, after violent debates, the king's supremacy was allowed.

     Two years after this, the archbishop wrote a second letter to Lord Cromwell, complaining of the clergy, and hinting at the machinations which the pope was then carrying on against the advocates of the Gospel. This letter is dated from Dublin, in April, 1538; and among other matters, the archbishop says, "A bird may be taught to speak with as much sense as many of the clergy do in this cvountry. These, though not scholars, yet are crafty to cozen the oor common people and to dissuade them from following his highness orders. The country folk here much hate your lordship, and despitefully call you, in their Irish tongue, the Blacksmith's Son. As a friend, I desire your lordship to look well to your noble person. Rome hath a great kindness for the duke of Norfolk, and great favors for this nation, purposely to oppose his highness."

     A short time after this, the pope sent over to Ireland (directed to the archbishop of Armagh and his clergy) a bull of excommunication against all who had, or should own the king's supremacy within the Irish nation; denouncing a curse on all of them, and theirs, who should not, within forty days, acknowledge to their confessors, that they had done amiss in so doing.

     Archbishop Browne gave notice of this in a letter dated, Dublin, May, 1538. Part of the form of confession, or vow, sent over to these Irish papists, ran as follows: "I do further declare him or here, father or mother, brother or sister, son or daughter, husband or wife, uncle or aunt, nephew or niece, kinsman or kinswoman, master or mistress, and all others, nearest or dearest relations, friend or acquaintance whatsoever, accursed, that either do or shall hold, for the time to come, any ecclesiastical or civil power above the authority of the Mother Church; or that do or shall obey, for the time to come, any of her, the Mother of Churches' opposers or enemies, or contrary to the same, of which I have here sworn unto: so God, the Blessed Virgin, St. Peter, St. Paul, and the Holy Evangelists, help me," etc. is an exact agreement with the doctrines promulgated by the Councils of Lateran and Constance, which expressly declare that no favor should be shown to heretics, nor faith kept with them; that they ought to be excommunicated and condemned, and their estates confiscated, and that princes are obliged, by a solemn oath, to root them out of their respective dominions.

     How abominable a church must that be, which thus dares to trample upon all authority! How besotted the people who regard the injunctions of such a church!

     In the archbishop's last-mentioned letter, dated May, 1538, he says: "His highness' viceroy of this nation is of little or no power with the old natives. Now both English and Irish begin to oppose your lordship's orders, and to lay aside their national quarrels, which I fear will (if anything will) cause a foreigner to invade this nation."

     Not long after this, Archbishop Browne seized one Thady O'Brian, a Franciscan friar, who had in his possession a paper sent from Rome, dated May, 1538, and directed to O'Neal. In this letter were the following words: "His Holiness, Paul, now pope, and the council of the fathers, have lately found, in Rome, a prophecy of one St. Lacerianus, an Irish bishop of Cashel, in which he saith that the Mother Church of Rome falleth, when, in Ireland, the Catholic faith is overcome. Therefore, for the glory of the Mother Church, the honor of St. Peter, and your own secureness, suppress heresy, and his holiness' enemies."

     This Thady O'Brian, after further examination and search made, was pilloried, and kept close prisoner until the king's orders arrived in what manner he should be further dispposed of. But order coming over from England that he was to be hanged, he laid violent hands on himself in the castle of Dublin. His body was afterwards carried to Gallows-green, where, after being hanged up for some time, it was interred.

     After the accession of Edward VI to the throne of England, an order was directed to Sir Anthony Leger, the lord-deputy of Ireland, commanding that the liturgy in English be forthwith set up in Ireland, there to be observed within the several bishoprics, cathedrals, and parish churches; and it was first read in Christ-church, Dublin, on Easter day, 1551, before the said Sir Anthony, Archbishop Browne, and others. Part of the royal order for this purpose was as follows: "Whereas, our gracious father, King Henry VIII taking into consideration the bondage and heavy yoke that his true and faithful subjects sustained, under the jurisdiction of the bishop of Rome; how several fabulous stories and lying wonders misled our subjects; dispensing with the sins of our nations, by their indulgences and pardons, for gain; purposely to cherish all evil vices, as robberies, rebellions, thefts, whoredoms, blasphemy, idolatry, etc., our gracious father hereupon dissolved all priories, monasteries, abbeys, and other pretended religious houses; as being but nurseries for vice or luxury, more than for sacred learning," etc.

     On the day after the Common Prayer was first used in Christchurch, Dublin, the following wicked scheme was projected by the papists:

     In the church was left a marble image of Christ, holding a reed in his hand, with a crown of thorns on his head. Whilst the English service (the Common Prayer) was being read before the lord-lieutenant, the archbishop of Dublin, the privy-council, the lord-mayor, and a great congregation, blood was seen to run through the crevices of the crown of thorns, and trickle down the face of the image. On this, some of the contrivers of the imposture cried aloud, "See how our Savior's image sweats blood! But it must necessarily do this, since heresy is come into the church." Immediately many of the lower order of people, indeed the vulgar of all ranks, were terrified at the sight of so miraculous and undeniable an evidence of the divine displeasure; they hastened from the church, convinced that the doctrines of Protestantism emanated from an infernal source, and that salvation was only to be found in the bosom of their own infallible Church.

     This incident, however ludicrous it may appear to the enlightened reader, had great influence over the minds of the ignorant Irish, and answered the ends of the impudent impostors who contrived it, so far as to check the progress of the reformed religion in Ireland very materially; many persons could not resist the conviction that there were many errors and corruptions in the Romish Church, but they were awed into silence by this pretended manifestation of Divine wrath, which was magnified beyond measure by the bigoted and interested priesthood.

     We have very few particulars as to the state of religion in Ireland during the remaining portion of the reign of Edward VI and the greater part of that of Mary. Towards the conclusion of the barbarous sway of that relentless bigot, she attempted to extend her inhuman persecutions to this island; but her diabolical intentions were happily frustrated in the following providential manner, the particulars of which are related by historians of good authority.

     Mary had appointed Dr. Pole (an agent of the bloodthirsty Bonner) one of the commissioners for carrying her barbarous intentions into effect. He having arrived at Chester with his commission, the mayor of that city, being a papist, waited upon him; when the doctor taking out of his cloak bag a leathern case, said to him, "Here is a commission that shall lash the heretics of Ireland." The good woman of the house being a Protestant, and having a brother in Dublin, named John Edmunds, was greatly troubled at what she heard. But watching her opportunity, whilst the mayor was taking his leave, and the doctor politely accompanying him downstairs, she opened the box, took out the commission, and in its stead laid a sheet of paper, with a pack of cards, and the knave of clubs at top. The doctor, not suspecting the trick that had been played him, put up the box, and arrived with it in Dublin, in September, 1558.

     Anxious to accomplish the intentions of his "pious" mistress, he immediately waited upon Lord Fitz-Walter, at that time viceroy, and presented the box to him; which being opened, nothing was found in it but a pack of cards. This startling all the persons present, his lordship said, "We must procure another commission; and in the meantime let us shuffle the cards."

     Dr. Pole, however, would have directly returned to England to get another commission; but waiting for a favorable wind, news arrived that Queen Mary was dead, and by this means the Protestants escaped a most cruel persecution. The above relation as we before observed, is confirmed by historians of the greatest credit, who add, that Queen Elizabeth settled a pension of forty pounds per annum upon the above mentioned Elizabeth Edmunds, for having thus saved the lives of her Protestant subjects.

     During the reigns of Elizabeth and James I, Ireland was almost constantly agitated by rebellions and insurrections, which, although not always taking their rise from the difference of religious opinions, between the English and Irish, were aggravated and rendered more bitter and irreconcilable from that cause. The popish priests artfully exaggerated the faults of the English government, and continually urged to their ignorant and prejudiced hearers the lawfulness of killing the Protestants, assuring them that all Catholics who were slain in the prosecution of so pious an enterprise, would be immediately received into everlasting felicity. The naturally ungovernable dispositions of the Irish, acted upon by these designing men, drove them into continual acts of barbarous and unjustifiable violence; and it must be confessed that the unsettled and arbitrary nature of the authority exercised by the English governors, was but little calculated to gain their affections. The Spaniards, too, by landing forces in the south, and giving every encouragement to the discontented natives to join their standard, kept the island in a continual state of turbulence and warfare. In 1601, they disembarked a body of four thousand men at Kinsale, and commenced what they called "the Holy War for the preservation of the faith in Ireland;" they were assisted by great numbers of the Irish, but were at length totally defeated by the deputy, Lord Mountjoy, and his officers.

     This closed the transactions of Elizabeth's reign with respect to Ireland; an interval of apparent tranquillity followed, but the popish priesthood, ever restless and designing, sought to undermine by secret machinations that government and that faith which they durst no longer openly attack. The pacific reign of James afforded them the opportunity of increasing their strength and maturing their schemes, and under his successor, Charles I, their numbers were greatly increased by titular Romish archbishops, bishops, deans, vicars-general, abbots, priests, and friars; for which reason, in 1629, the public exercise of the popish rites and ceremonies was forbidden.

     But notwithstanding this, soon afterwards, the Romish clergy erected a new popish university in the city of Dublin. They also proceeded to build monasteries and nunneries in various parts of the kingdom; in which places these very Romish clergy, and the chiefs of the Irish, held frequent meetings; and from thence, used to pass to and fro, to France, Spain, Flanders, Lorraine, and Rome; where the detestable plot of 1641 was hatching by the family of the O'Neals and their followers.

     A short time before the horrid conspiracy broke out, which we are now going to relate, the papists in Ireland had presented a remonstrance to the lords-justice of that kingdom, demanding the free exercise of their religion, and a repeal of all laws to the contrary; to which both houses of parliament in England solemnly answered that they would never grant any toleration to the popish religion in that kingdom.

     This further irritated the papists to put in execution the diabolical plot concerted for the destruction of the Protestants; and it failed not of the success wished for by its malicious and rancorous projectors.

     The design of this horrid conspiracy was that a general insurrection should take place at the same time throughout the kingdom, and that all the Protestants, without exception, should be murdered. The day fixed for this horrid massacre, was the twenty-third of October, 1641, the feast of Ignatius Loyola, founder of the Jesuits; and the chief conspirators in the principal parts of the kingdom made the necessary preparations for the intended conflict.

     In order that this detested scheme might the more infallibly succeed, the most distinguished artifices were practiced by the papists; and their behavior in their visits to the Protestants, at this time, was with more seeming kindness than they had hitherto shown, which was done the more completely to effect the inhuman and treacherous designs then meditating against them.

     The execution of this savage conspiracy was delayed until the approach of winter, that sending troops from England might be attended with greater difficulty. Cardinal Richelieu, the French minister, had promised the conspirators a considerable supply of men and money; and many Irish officers had given the strongest assurances that they would heartily concur with their Catholic brethren, as soon as the insurrection took place.

     The day preceding that appointed for carrying this horrid design into execution was now arrived, when, happily, for the metropolis of the kingdom, the conspiracy was discovered by one Owen O'Connelly, an Irishman, for which most signal service the English Parliament voted him 500 pounds and a pension of 200 pounds during his life.

     So very seasonably was this plot discovered, even but a few hours before the city and castle of Dublin were to have been surprised, that the lords-justice had but just time to put themselves, and the city, in a proper posture of defence. Lord M'Guire, who was the principal leader here, with his accomplices, was seized the same evening in the city; and in their lodgings were found swords, hatchets, pole-axes, hammers, and such other instruments of death as had been prepared for the destruction and extirpation of the Protestants in that part of the kingdom.

     Thus was the metropolic happily preserved; but the bloody part of the intended tragedy was past prevention. The conspirators were in arms all over the kingdom early in the morning of the day appointed, and every Protestant who fell in their way was immediately murdered. No age, no sex, no condition, was spared. The wife weeping for her butchered husband, and embracing her helpless children, was pierced with them, and perished by the same stroke. The old, the young, the vigorous, and the infirm, underwent the same fate, and were blended in one common ruin. In vain did flight save from the first assault, destruction was everywhere let loose, and met the hunted victims at every turn. In vain was recourse had to relations, to companions, to friends; all connections were dissolved; and death was dealt by that hand from which protection was implored and expected. Without provocation, without opposition, the astonished English, living in profound peace, and, as they thought, full security, were massacred by their nearest neighbors, with whom they had long maintained a continued intercourse of kindness and good offices. Nay, even death was the slightest punishment inflicted by these monsters in human form; all the tortures which wanton cruelty could invent, all the lingering pains of body, the anguish of mind, the agonies of despair, could not satiate revenge excited without injury, and cruelly derived from no just cause whatever. Depraved nature, even perverted religion, though encouraged by the utmost license, cannot reach to a greater pitch of ferocity than appeared in these merciless barbarians. Even the weaker sex themselves, naturally tender to their own sufferings, and compassionate to those of others, have emulated their robust companions in the practice of every cruelty. The very children, taught by example and encouraged by the exhortation of their parents, dealt their feeble blows on the dead carcasses of the defenceless children of the English.

Foxe's Book of Martyrs

The Continual Burnt Offering (Hebrews 13:20)

By H.A. Ironside - 1941

December 5
Hebrews 13:20 Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, 21 equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.    ESV

     The shepherd character of our Lord Jesus suggests loving care for His own. He is Jehovah Ra’ah, “the Lord my Shepherd,” who takes complete charge of His sheep, and undertakes to provide for their every need. He has given us many pictures of His shepherd service. As the Good Shepherd He died for us (John 10). As the great Shepherd He is ever watching over us. As the chief Shepherd He will gather us all about Himself when He comes again (1 Peter 5). His promises are sufficient for every difficulty. Yet in times of stress we forget them all, and worry and fret as though we had to deal with all our problems ourselves, instead of trusting to His love and wisdom to undertake for us. He has promised to see us through.

     When the Lord has the supreme place in our hearts—not simply the first place—we will not fear all the power of the enemy, for He to whom we have committed the keeping of our souls is more than a match for all that may rise up against us. In all His ways with us He is the unfailing Shepherd, having our best interests in view. His glory and our blessing are indissolubly linked together.

O Thou great all-gracious Shepherd,
Shedding for us Thy life’s blood,
Unto shame and death delivered,
All to bring us nigh to God!
Now our willing hearts adore Thee,
Now we taste Thy dying love,
While by faith we come before Thee—
Faith which lifts our souls above.
--- Mrs. Wellesley

The Continual Burnt Offering: Daily Meditations on the Word of God

  • He Shall
    Reign Forever
  • Jesus in 3-D
    Part 1
  • Jesus in 3-D
    Part 2

     Devotionals, notes, poetry and more

UCB The Word For Today
     ‘Lord, what should I do?’ (3)
     12/5/2017    Bob Gass

     ‘The way of a fool seems right to him, but a wise man listens to advice.’

(Pr 12:15) 15 The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice. ESV

     Another way God will lead you is: Through godly advice. Moses experienced this. Instead of getting help, he tried to do it all himself. At that point his father-in-law, Jethro, said to him, ‘What you are doing is not good’ (Exodus 18:17 NIV 2011 Edition). Then he told Moses to delegate responsibility to capable leaders who could share the load with him. ‘Moses listened to his father-in-law and did everything he said’ (Exodus 18:24 NIV 2011 Edition). As a result, Moses’ problem was solved, and Israel made it successfully to the Promised Land. Some of the time God will speak to you directly and reveal what you should do, but much of the time He will speak to you through relationships. He will bring wise and seasoned people alongside you. At that point you need to be humble enough to heed their advice. You may be good; indeed, you may be better than most. But you’ll never be as good as you could be, without the help of others. But you must be careful who you listen to – trustworthy counsellors and persons who want only what God wants. Such persons will stay objective, listen carefully, and answer slowly. Often they won’t give you an answer at the time you ask for it. They want to sleep on it; they want to pray about it; they want to think about it. Such a person is like having an extra set of eyes and ears. Why would you want to live without them? So today be open to those God sends into your life to help guide you.

Hosea 11-12

UCB The Word For Today

American Minute
     by Bill Federer

     A signer of the U.S. Constitution who was licensed to preach? This was Hugh Williamson, born this day, December 5, 1735. He studied divinity in Connecticut and was admitted to the Presbytery of Philadelphia, where he preached nearly two years till a chronic chest weakness convinced him to change careers. Williamson then entered medical school and during the Revolution served as Surgeon General to the North Carolina troops. As a scientist, High Williamson joined Dr. Benjamin Franklin in many electrical experiments and wrote a book on climate, giving scientific explanation for the credibility of Noah’s flood and Moses’ exodus.

American Minute

Letters To Malcolm, Chiefly On Prayer
     by C.S. Lewis
Reflections on the Intimate Dialogue
Between Man and God

     A question at once arises. Is it still God speaking when a liar or a blasphemer speaks? In one sense, almost Yes. Apart from God he could not speak at all; there are no words not derived from the Word; no acts not derived from Him who is Actus purus. And indeed the only way in which I can make real to myself what theology teaches about the heinousness of sin is to remember that every sin is the distortion of an energy breathed into us-an energy which, if not thus distorted, would have blossomed into one of those holy acts whereof "God did it" and "I did it" are both true descriptions. We poison the wine as He decants it into us; murder a melody He would play with us as the instrument. We caricature the self-portrait He would paint. Hence all sin, what­ ever else it is, is sacrilege.

     Where there is prayer at all we may suppose that there is some effort, however feeble, towards the second condition, the union of wills. What God labors to do or say through the man comes back to God with a distortion which at any rate is not total.

     Do you object to the apparent "roundaboutness"-it could easily be made comic-of the whole picture? Why should God speak to Himself through man? I ask, in reply, why should He do anything through His creatures? Why should He achieve, the long way round, through the labors of angels, men (always imperfectly obedient and efficient), and the activity of irrational and inanimate beings, ends which, presumably, the mere fiat of omnipotence would achieve with instantaneous perfection?

     Creation seems to be delegation through and through. He will do nothing simply of Himself which can be done by creatures. I suppose this is because He is a giver. And He has nothing to give but Himself. And to give Himself is to do His deeds-in a sense, and on varying levels to be Himself through the things He has made.

     In Pantheism God is all. But the whole point of creation surely is that He was not content to be all. He intends to be "all in all."

     One must be careful not to put this in a way which would blur the distinction between the creation of a man and the Incarnation of God. Could one, as a mere model, put it thus? In creation God makes-invents-a person and "utters"­ injects-him into the realm of Nature. In the Incarnation, God the Son takes the body and human soul of Jesus, and, through that, the whole environment of Nature, all the creaturely predicament, into His own being. So that "He came down from Heaven" can almost be transposed into "Heaven drew earth up into it," and locality, limitation, sleep, sweat, footsore weariness, frustration, pain, doubt, and death, are, from before all worlds, known by God from within. The pure light walks the earth; the darkness, received into the heart of Deity, is there swallowed up. Where, except in uncreated light, can the darkness be drowned?

Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer

Lean Into God
     Compiled by Richard S. Adams

Thus was the King and the Lord of glory
judged by man's judgment,
when manifest in flesh:
far be it from any of his ministers
to expect better treatment.
--- George Whitefield

… those who walk with him today
will dwell with him hereafter;
those who tread in his footsteps
will sit on his throne.
--- C. H. Spurgeon

Genius is eternal patience.
--- Michelangelo

The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.
--- Hans Hofmann

... from here, there and everywhere

Proverbs 29:27
     by D.H. Stern

27     An unjust person is an abomination to the righteous,
but he who lives uprightly is an abomination to the wicked.

Complete Jewish Bible : An English Version of the Tanakh (Old Testament) and B'Rit Hadashah (New Testament)

My Utmost For The Highest
     A Daily Devotional by Oswald Chambers

                The Temple of the Holy Ghost

     Only in the throne will I be greater than thou.
--- Genesis 41:40.

     I have to account to God for the way in which I rule my body under His domination. Paul said he did not “frustrate the grace of God”—make it of no effect. The grace of God is absolute, the salvation of Jesus is perfect, it is done for ever. I am not being saved, I am saved; salvation is as eternal as God’s throne; the thing for me to do is to work out what God works in. “Work out your own salvation”; I am responsible for doing it. It means that I have to manifest in this body the life of the Lord Jesus, not mystically, but really and emphatically. “I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection.” Every saint can have his body under absolute control for God. God has made us to have government over all the temple of the Holy Spirit, over imaginations and affections. We are responsible for these, and we must never give way to inordinate affections. Most of us are much sterner with others than we are in regard to ourselves; we make excuses for things in ourselves whilst we condemn in others things to which we are not naturally inclined.

     “I beseech you,” says Paul, “present your bodies a living sacrifice.” The point to decide is this—‘Do I agree with my Lord and Master that my body shall be His temple?’ If so, then for me the whole of the law for the body is summed up in this revelation, that my body is the temple of the Holy Ghost.

My Utmost for His Highest

     the Poetry of R.S. Thomas


God looked at the eagle
     that looked at
the wolf that watched the jack-rabbit
cropping the grass,
     green and curling
as God's beard. He stepped back;
it was perfect,
     a self-regulating machine
of blood and feces.
     One thing was missing:
he skimmed off a faint reflection
     of himself
in sea-water; breathed air into it,
and set the red corpuscles whirling.
     It was not long
before the creature had the eagle,
     the wolf and
jack rabbit squealing for mercy.
     Only the grass
resisted. It used it to warm
     its imagination
by. God took a handful of
     small germs,
sowing them in the smooth flesh.
     It was curious,
the harvest: the limbs modeled
     an obscene
question, the head swelled,
     out of the eyes came
tears of pus. There was the sound
of thunder, the loud,
     uncontrollable laughter of
God, and in his side like an incurred
     stitch, Jesus.

The Poems of R.S. Thomas

     Maimonides: Torah and Philosophic Quest

     The providence of God, may He be exalted, is constantly watching over those who have obtained this overflow, which is permitted to everyone who makes efforts with a view to obtaining it. If a man’s thought is free from distraction, if he apprehends Him, may He be exalted, in the right way and rejoices in what he apprehends, that individual can never be afflicted with evil of any kind. For he is with God and God is with him. When, however, he abandons Him, may He be exalted, and is thus separated from God and God separated from him, he becomes in consequence of this a target for every evil that may happen to befall him. For the thing that necessarily brings about providence and deliverance from the sea of chance consists in that intellectual overflow. Yet an impediment may prevent for some time its reaching the excellent and good man in question, or again it was not obtained at all by such and such imperfect and wicked man, and therefore the chance occurrences that befell them happened.

     To my mind this belief is also shown as true by a text of the Torah; He, may He be exalted, says “And I will abandon them and hide My countenance from them. They shall be ready prey; and many evils and troubles shall befall them. And they shall say on that day, ‘Surely it is because our God is not in our midst that these evils have befallen us.’ ” It is clear that we are the cause of this “hiding of the countenance,” and we are the agents who produce this separation. This is the meaning of His saying: “Yet I will keep My countenance hidden on that day, because of all the evil they have done.” There is no doubt that what is true of one is true of a community. Thus it has become clear to you that the reason for a human individual’s being abandoned to chance so that he is permitted to be devoured like the beasts is his being separated from God.

     Both the halakhic Jew lacking knowledge of philosophy and the halakhic Jew possessing such knowledge recognize that “there is no suffering without transgression” and “if a man sees that painful sufferings visit him, let him examine his conduct.” The difference between them, however, is that the former understands his failure solely within the rubric of halakhic practice whereas the latter perceives his sin as the absence of intellectual love of God. These two approaches to what constitutes the cause of suffering are mirrored, respectively, in the yearnings for messianism olam ha-ba.

     The Mishneh Torah, which strives primarily to guide the community toward halakhic practice, ends with a description of the ideal political condition for a Halakhic community—messianism. Messianism gives expression to the hopes of a halakhic community which understands teshuvah as its failure to fulfill halakhic norms. However the individual who follows the path to intellectual love of God delineated in The Guide of the Perplexed, expresses his longing for teshuvah by a passionate yearning for freedom from the limitations of human existence. He longs for olam ha-ba:

     Yet in the measure in which the faculties of the body are weakened and the fire of the desires is quenched, the intellect is strengthened, its lights achieve a wider extension, its apprehension is purified, and it rejoices in what it apprehends. The result is that when a perfect man is stricken with years and approaches death, this apprehension increases very powerfully, joy over this apprehension and a great love for the object of apprehension become stronger, until the soul is separated from the body at that moment in this state of pleasure. Because of this the Sages have indicated with reference to the deaths of Moses, Aaron, and Miriam that “the three of them died by a kiss.” … Their purpose was to indicate that the three of them died in the pleasure of this apprehension due to the intensity of passionate love. In this dictum the Sages, may their memory be blessed, followed the generally accepted poetical way of expression that calls the apprehension that is achieved in a state of intense and passionate love for Him, may He be exalted, “a kiss,” in accordance with its dictum: “Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth, and so on.” [The Sages], may their memory be blessed, mention the occurrence of this kind of death, which in true reality is salvation from death, only with regard to “Moses, Aaron, and Miriam.”

Maimonides: Torah and Philosophic Quest

Ezekiel 44:1 - 46:24
     Piesthood and sacrifices

     These three chapters are concerned with various laws regulating the millennial system of priesthood and sacrifices. While there are similarities with the commandments of the Law of Moses, there are also some marked differences. For this reason, the millennial system of priesthood and sacrifices must not be viewed as a reinstitution of the Law of Moses, which ended permanently, and forever with the death of the Messiah. During the Messianic Age, a whole new system of law will be instituted. This particular passage has seven major sections dealing with this theme.

     The fifth section, Ezekiel 45:1–8, is a further description of the mountain of Jehovah’s House itself. From previous references, we have noted that it will be the highest mountain in the world, somewhere on this mountain the Millennial Temple will stand, and on the south side of this mountain will be the frame of the city that Ezekiel saw. But now we are given further descriptions of what is on top of this mountain.

     In this passage, we are told that this high mountain will have a flat plateau on top, and the flat plateau will be fifty miles square. This fifty-mile-square area will itself be divided into three sections. The northern section will be twenty miles by fifty miles. In the very center of this section will stand the Millennial Temple, which will be one mile square. The rest of the area will be living quarters for the sons of Zadok, who are responsible for the sacrifices according to verses 1–4. The second section will also be twenty miles by fifty miles, and this will be the place for the Tribe of Levi, who will serve as the caretakers of the Temple according to verse 5. In verse 6, the southern side will be ten miles by fifty miles. In the middle of the southern side, ten miles by ten miles, will be the city that Ezekiel saw: the Millennial Jerusalem. Thus we know that the Millennial Jerusalem will be ten miles square, and from this city Jesus will reign. Verses 7–8 state that on each side of this city there is an area ten miles by twenty miles which will be for growing food for the inhabitants of Jerusalem.

     Thus, after so many hints and revelations, we are given the details of what will be on top of this very high mountain. We also note that the Millennial Temple will not be in the midst of the City of Jerusalem, but it will be separated by many miles. For the Temple itself will be on the north side of this high mountain, whereas Jerusalem will be on the southern side of this high mountain.

Fruchtenbaum, A. G. (1983). Vol. 24: The Messianic Bible Study Collection (33). Tustin, Calif.: Ariel Ministries.

Take Heart
     December 5

     Diligently study the Scriptures. --- John 5:39.

     I will lay down some directions for you to study the Scriptures with benefit.   The Sermons of George Whitefield (Two-Volume Set)

     Fifth, labor to attain that Spirit by which they were written. The Scriptures have been compared to the cloud that went before the Israelites. They are dark and hard to be understood by the natural self, as the cloud appeared dark to the Egyptians. But they are light to Christians, as that same cloud, which seemed dark to Pharaoh and his house, appeared bright and altogether glorious to the Israel of God.

     How could it be otherwise? For God, being spirit, cannot communicate himself any other way than in a spiritual manner to human hearts, and consequently if we are strangers to his Spirit, we must continue strangers to his Word, because it is altogether like him, spiritual. Labor therefore earnestly to attain this blessed Spirit; otherwise, your minds will never be opened to understand the Scriptures aright, and remember, prayer is one of the most immediate means to get this Holy Spirit.

     Therefore, sixth, before you read the Scriptures, pray that Christ, according to his promise, would send his Spirit to guide you into all truth. Intersperse short interjections while you are engaged in reading. Pray over every word and verse, if possible, and when you close the book, most earnestly implore God that the words that you have read may be engrafted into your hearts and bring forth in you the fruits of a good life.

     Do this, and you will, with a holy violence, draw down God’s Holy Spirit into your hearts. You will experience his gracious influence and feel him enlightening, reviving, and inflaming your souls by the Word of God. You will then not only read, but observe, learn, and digest what you read—and the word of God will be food and drink to your souls.

     Seventh, read the Scripture consistently, or, to use our Savior’s expression, “Diligently study the Scriptures.” Dig in them as for hidden treasure, for here is an allusion to those who dig in mines, and our Savior would by it teach us that we must take as much pains in constantly reading his word, if we would grow wise by it, as those who dig for gold and silver. The Scriptures contain the deep things of God and therefore can never be sufficiently searched by a careless, superficial, cursory reading, but by an industrious, close, and humble application.

--- George Whitefield

Take Heart: Daily Devotions with the Church's Great Preachers

On This Day   December 5
     Peace and Quiet

     St. Sabas was born in 439 to parents who didn’t want him. His father, an army officer, traveled widely, taking the boy’s mother with him. Sabas was entrusted to an uncle who mistreated him. He ran away twice and at age 10 sought peace and quiet in a monastery. There he learned of the Lord.

     Ten years later the young man traveled to Jerusalem, intrigued by reports of religious hermits and monks who lived in the Palestinian deserts. The ascetic, St. Euthymius, became his mentor but refused his requests for total solitude. When Sabas reached age 30, he again begged Euthymius for a life of silence. This time he was allowed to spend five days a week in a remote cave in prayer and manual labor. Every Sunday night Sabas would leave the monastery carrying bundles of palm twigs, and every Saturday Morning he would return with 50 baskets he had made.

     When Euthymius died, Sabas retired into a cave near the brook Cedron. He lived there, totally separated from human interaction, for years. But at length pilgrims began disturbing him, coming for counsel, wanting to become his disciples. Sabas consented at last and formed a community of ascetics. Soon 100 hermits were cloistered together. Sabas, by then 53 years old, was ordained a priest. Hospitals and inns were built, and benevolent ministries were established. In 493, the patriarch of Jerusalem appointed Sabas head of all the hermits of Palestine.

     Sabas found himself in demand from his own monks and by the church at large. Several heresies were threatening, and Sabas became a powerful advocate for orthodoxy. He journeyed to Constantinople to instruct the emperor on doctrinal matters, and he traveled widely preaching the faith and defending orthodoxy.

     He was 91 when he made his last journey to Constantinople to intervene with the emperor about political repression in Palestine. His mission was successful, and he returned to his community of monks where he fell sick and asked for peace and quiet. He lingered four days, then died on December 5, 532, at age 94.

     “In the desert someone is shouting, ‘Get the road ready for the Lord! Make a straight path for him. Fill up every valley and level every mountain and hill. Straighten the crooked paths and smooth out the rough roads. Then everyone will see the saving power of God.’ ”
--- Luke 3:4b-6.

On This Day 365 Amazing And Inspiring Stories About Saints, Martyrs And Heroes

Advent Week Two - Dietrich Bonhoeffer
     God Is In The Manger (Day 2)

     The Mystery Of Love

     The mystery remains a mystery. It withdraws from our grasp. Mystery, however, does not mean simply not knowing something.

     The greatest mystery is not the most distant star; on the contrary, the closer something comes to us and the better we know it, then the more mysterious it becomes for us. The greatest mystery to us is not the most distant person, but the one next to us. The mystery of other people is not reduced by getting to know more and more about them. Rather, in their closeness they become more and more mysterious. And the final depth of all mystery is when two people come so close to each other that they low each other. Nowhere in the world does one feel the might of the mysterious and its wonder as strongly as here. When two people know everything about each other, the mystery of the love between them becomes infinitely great. And only in this love do they understand each other, know everything about each other, know each other completely. And yet, the more they love each other and know about each other in love, the more deeply they know the mystery of' their love. Thus, knowledge about each other does not remove the mystery, but rather makes it more profound. The very fact that the other person is so near to me is the greatest mystery.

     All that is Christmas originates in heaven and comes from there to us all, to you and me alike, and forms a stronger bond between us than we could ever forge by ourselves.

  Maria von Wedemeyer to Dietrich Bonhoeffer,

  December 19, 1943, from Patzig

Go to   Phillipians 1:3 - 14     Click Here

  God Is In The Manger

Morning and Evening
     Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON

          Morning - December 5

     “Ask, and it shall be given you.” --- Matthew 7:7.

     We know of a place in England still existing, where a dole of bread is served to every passerby who chooses to ask for it. Whoever the traveller may be, he has but to knock at the door of St. Cross Hospital, and there is the dole of bread for him. Jesus Christ so loveth sinners that he has built a St. Cross Hospital, so that whenever a sinner is hungry, he has but to knock and have his wants supplied. Nay, he has done better; he has attached to this Hospital of the Cross a bath; and whenever a soul is black and filthy, it has but to go there and be washed. The fountain is always full, always efficacious. No sinner ever went into it and found that it could not wash away his stains. Sins which were scarlet and crimson have all disappeared, and the sinner has been whiter than snow. As if this were not enough, there is attached to this Hospital of the Cross a wardrobe, and a sinner making application simply as a sinner, may be clothed from head to foot; and if he wishes to be a soldier, he may not merely have a garment for ordinary wear, but armour which shall cover him from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head. If he asks for a sword, he shall have that given to him, and a shield too. Nothing that is good for him shall be denied him. He shall have spending-money so long as he lives, and he shall have an eternal heritage of glorious treasure when he enters into the joy of his Lord.

     If all these things are to be had by merely knocking at mercy’s door, O my soul, knock hard this Morning, and ask large things of thy generous Lord. Leave not the throne of grace till all thy wants have been spread before the Lord, and until by faith thou hast a comfortable prospect that they shall be all supplied. No bashfulness need retard when Jesus invites. No unbelief should hinder when Jesus promises. No cold-heartedness should restrain when such blessings are to be obtained.

          Evening - December 5

     “And the Lord shewed me four carpenters.” --- Zechariah 1:20.

     In the vision described in this chapter, the prophet saw four terrible horns. They were pushing this way and that way, dashing down the strongest and the mightiest; and the prophet asked, “What are these?” The answer was, “These are the horns which have scattered Israel.” He saw before him a representation of those powers which had oppressed the church of God. There were four horns; for the church is attacked from all quarters. Well might the prophet have felt dismayed; but on a sudden there appeared before him four carpenters. He asked, “What shall these do?” These are the men whom God hath found to break those horns in pieces. God will always find men for his work, and he will find them at the right time. The prophet did not see the carpenters first, when there was nothing to do, but first the “horns,” and then the “carpenters.”

     Moreover, the Lord finds enough men. He did not find three carpenters, but four; there were four horns, and there must be four workmen. God finds the right men; not four men with pens to write; not four architects to draw plans; but four carpenters to do rough work. Rest assured, you who tremble for the ark of God, that when the “horns” grow troublesome, the “carpenters” will be found. You need not fret concerning the weakness of the church of God at any moment; there may be growing up in obscurity the valiant reformer who will shake the nations: Chrysostoms may come forth from our Ragged Schools, and Augustines from the thickest darkness of London’s poverty. The Lord knows where to find his servants. He hath in ambush a multitude of mighty men, and at his word they shall start up to the battle; “for the battle is the Lord’s,” and he shall get to himself the victory. Let us abide faithful to Christ, and he, in the right time, will raise up for us a defence, whether it be in the day of our personal need, or in the season of peril to his Church.

Morning and Evening

Amazing Grace
     December 5


     Jean Perry, 1865–1935

     She will give birth to a son, and you are to give Him the name Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins. (Matthew 1:21

   There is no name so sweet on earth, no name so sweet in heaven,
   The name, before His wondrous birth, to Christ the Savior given.
--- George W. Bethune

     There are many wonderful names and titles ascribed to Christ throughout the Bible. A study of these titles is not only interesting but also important since each name reveals an insight into our Lord’s character. Ivor Powell, in his book Bible Names of Christ (Kregel Publications), discusses 80 different titles including:

     Counselor— Isaiah 9:6
     Emmanuel— Matthew 1:23
     Helper— Hebrews 13:6
     Messiah— Daniel 9:25
     Judge— John 5:22
     Rose of Sharon— Song of Solomon 2:1
     Sun of Righteousness— Malachi 4:2

     But the sweetest name of all to every believer is Jesus. When He was eight days old, Mary’s infant Son was circumcised and given the Hebrew name Joshua (Jesus in Greek), which literally means “the Lord saves.” And the Scriptures affirm without qualification that “there is no other name given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:l2).

     “That Beautiful Name” first appeared in The Voice of Thanksgiving, No. 2, a hymnal published in 1916 especially for use at the Moody Bible Institute. The hymn has since found a place in the affections of Christian people everywhere.

     I know of a Name, a beautiful Name, that angels brought down to earth; they whispered it low, one night long ago, to a maiden of lowly birth.
     I know of a Name, a beautiful Name, that unto a Babe was giv’n; the stars glittered bright thruout that glad night, and angels praised God in heav’n.
     The One of that Name my Savior became, my Savior of Calvary; my sins nailed Him there; my burdens He bare; He suffered all this for me.
     I love that blest Name, that wonderful Name, made higher than all in heav’n; ’twas whispered, I know, in my heart long ago—to Jesus my life I’ve giv’n.

     For Today: Matthew 10:32; 1 Corinthians 1:2; Philippians 2:9–11; Hebrews 1:4

     Raise your voice in praise and worship to the One who was given to save us from our sins. Sing as you go ---

Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions

The Existence and Attributes of God
     Stephen Charnock

     (1.) We cannot suppose God a Creator, without supposing a sovereign dominion in him. No creature can be made without some law in its nature; if it had not law, it would be created to no purpose, to no regular end. It would be utterly unbecoming an infinite wisdom to create a lawless creature, a creature wholly vain; much less can a rational creature be made without a law: if it had no law, it were not rational: for the very notion of a rational creature implies reason to be a law to it, and implies an acting by rule. If you could suppose rational creatures without a law, you might suppose that they might blaspheme their Creator, and murder their fellow-creatures, and commit the most abominable villanies destructive to human society, without sin; for “where there is no law, there is no transgression.” But those things are accounted sins by all mankind, and sins against the Supreme Being: so that a dominion, and the exercise of it, is so fast linked to God, so entirely in him, so intrinsic in his nature, that it cannot be imagined that a rational creature can be made by him, without a stamp and mark of that dominion in his very nature and frame; it is so inseparable from God in his very act of creation.

     (2.) It is such a dominion as cannot be renounced by God himself. It is so intrinsic and connatural to him, so inlaid in the nature of God, that he cannot strip himself of it, nor of the exercise of it, while any creature remains. It is preserved by him, for it could not subsist of itself; it is governed by him, it could not else answer its end. It is impossible there can be a creature, which hath not God for its Lord. Christ himself, though in regard of his Deity equal with God, yet in regard of his created state, and assuming our nature, was God’s servant, was governed by him in the whole of his office, acted according to his command and directions; God calls him his servant (Isa. 42:1): and Christ, in that prophetic psalm of him, calls God his Lord (Psalm 16:2): “O my soul, thou hast said unto the Lord, Thou art my Lord.” It was impossible it should be otherwise; justice had been so far from being satisfied, that it had been highly incensed if the order of things in the due subjection to God had been broke, and his terms had not been complied with. It would be a judgment upon the world if God should give up the government to any else, as it is when he gives “children to be princes” (Isa. 3:4); i. e. children in understanding.

     (3.) It is so inseparable, that it cannot be communicated to any creature. No creature is able to exercise it; every creature is unable to perform all the offices that belong to this dominion. No creature can impose laws upon the consciences of men: man knows not the inlets into the soul, his pen cannot reach the inwards of man. What laws he hath power to propose to conscience, he cannot see executed; because every creature wants omniscience; he is not able to perceive all those breaches of the law which may be committed at the same time in so many cities, so many chambers. Or, suppose an angel, in regard to the height of his standing, and the insufficiency of walls, and darkness, and distance to obstruct his view, can behold men’s actions, yet he cannot know the internal acts of men’s minds and wills, without some outward eruption and appearance of them. And if he be ignorant of them, how can he execute his laws? If he only understand the outward fact without the inward thought, how can he dispense a justice proportionable to the crime? he must needs be ignorant of that which adds the greatest aggravation sometimes to a sin, and inflicts a lighter punishment upon that which receives a deeper tincture from the inward posture of the mind, than another fact may do, which in the outward act may appear more base and unjust; and so while he intends righteousness, may act a degree of injustice. Besides, no creature can inflict a due punishment for sin; that which is due to sin, is a loss of the vision and sight of God; but none can deprive any of that but God himself; nor can a creature reward another with eternal life, which consists in communion with God, which none but God can bestow.

     II. Wherein the dominion of God is founded.

     1. On the excellency of his nature. Indeed, a bare excellency of nature bespeaks a fitness for government, but doth not properly convey a right of government. Excellency speaks aptitude, not title: a subject may have more wisdom than the prince, and be fitter to hold the reins of government, but he hath not a title to royalty. A man of large capacity and strong virtue is fit to serve his country in parliament, but the election of the people conveys a title to him. Yet a strain of intellectual and moral abilities beyond others, is a foundation for dominion. And it is commonly seen that such eminences in men, though they do not invest them with a civil authority, or an authority of jurisdiction, yet they create a veneration in the minds of men; their virtue attracts reverence, and their advice is regarded as an oracle. Old men by their age, when stored with more wisdom and knowledge by reason of their long experience, acquire a kind of power over the younger in their dictates and councils, so that they gain, by the strength of that excellency, a real authority in the minds of those men they converse with, and possess themselves of a deep respect for them. God therefore being an incomprehensible ocean of all perfection, and possessing infinitely all those virtues that may lay a claim to dominion, hath the first foundation of it in his own nature. His incomparable and unparalleled excellency, as well as the greatness of his work, attracts the voluntary worship of him as a sovereign Lord (Psalm 86:8): “Among the gods, there is none like unto thee; neither are there any works like unto thy work. All nations shall come and worship before thee.” Though his benefits are great engagements to our obedience and affection, yet his infinite majesty and perfection requires the first place in our acknowledgements and adorations. Upon this account God claims it (Isa. 46:9): “I am God, and there is none like me; I will do all my pleasure:” and the prophet Jeremiah upon the same account acknowledgeth it (Jer. 10:7): “Forasmuch as there is none like unto thee, O Lord, thou art great, and thy name is great in might: who would not fear thee, O King of nations? for to thee doth it appertain: forasmuch as there is none like unto thee.” And this is a more noble title of dominion, it being an uncreated title, and more eminent than that of creation or preservation. This is the natural order God hath placed in his creatures, that the more excellent should rule the inferior. He committed not the government of lower creatures to lions and tigers, that have a delight in blood, but no knowledge of virtue; but to man, who had an eminence in his nature above other creatures, and was formed with a perfect rectitude, and a height of reason to guide the reins over them. In man, the soul being of a more sublime nature, is set of right to rule over the body; the mind, the most excellent faculty of the soul, to rule over the other powers of it: and wisdom, the most excellent habit of the mind, to guide and regulate that in its determinations; and when the body and sensitive appetite control the soul and mind, it is an usurpation against nature, not a rule according to nature. The excellency, thereof, of the Divine nature is the natural foundation for his dominion. He hath wisdom to know what is fit for him to do, and an immutable righteousness whereby he cannot do any thing base and unworthy: he hath a foreknowledge whereby be is able to order all things to answer his own glorious designs and the end of his government, that nothing can go awry, nothing put him to a stand, and constrain him to meditate new counsels. So that if it could be supposed that the world had not been created by him, that the parts of it had met together by chance, and been compacted into such a body, none but God, the supreme and most excellent Being in the world, could have merited, and deservedly challenged the government of it; because nothing had an excellency of nature to capacitate it for it, as he hath, or to enter into a contest with him for a sufficiency to govern.

     2. It is founded in his act of creation. He is the sovereign Lord, as he is the almighty Creator. The relation of an entire Creator induceth the relation of an absolute Lord; he that gives being, motion, that is the sole cause of the being of a thing, which was before nothing, that hath nothing to concur with him, nothing to assist him, but by his sole power commands it to stand up into being, is the unquestionable Lord and proprietor of that thing that hath no dependence but upon him; and by this act of creation, which extended to all things, he became universal Sovereign over all things and those that waive the excellency of his nature as the foundation of his government, easily acknowledge the sufficiency of it upon his actual creation. His dominion of jurisdiction results from creation. When God himself makes an oration in defence of his sovereignty (Job 38.) his chief arguments are drawn from creation; and (Psalm 95:3, 5), “The Lord is a great King above all gods; the sea is his, and he made it:” and so the apostle, in his sermon to the Athenians. As he “made the world, and all things therein,” he is styled, “Lord of heaven and earth” (Acts 17:24). His dominion, also, of property stands upon this basis: “The heavens are thine, the earth also is thine: as for the world, and the fulness thereof, thou hast founded them” (Psalm 89:11). Upon this title of forming Israel as a creature, or rather as a church, he demands their service to him as their Sovereign: “O Jacob and Israel, thou art my servant, I have formed thee: thou art my servant, O Israel” (Isa. 44:21). The sovereignty of God naturally ariseth from the relation of all things to himself as their entire Creator, and their natural and inseparable dependence upon him in regard of their being and well-being. It depends not upon the election of men; God hath a natural dominion over us as creatures, before he hath a dominion by consent over us as converts: as soon as ever anything began to be a creature, it was a vassal to God, as a Lord. Every man is acknowledged to have a right of possessing what he hath made, and a power of dominion over what he hath framed: he may either cherish his own work, or dash it in pieces; he may either add a greater comeliness to it, or deface what he hath already imparted. He hath a right of property in it: no other man can, without injury, pilfer his own work from him. The work hath no propriety in itself; the right must he in the immediate framer, or in the person that employed him. The first cause of everything hath an unquestionable dominion of propriety in it upon the score of justice. By the law of nations, the first finder of a country is esteemed the rightful possessor and lord of that country, and the first inventor of an art hath a right of exercising it. If a man hath a just claim of dominion over that thing whose materials were not of his framing, but from only the addition of a new figure from his skill; as a limner over his picture, the cloth whereof he never made, nor the colors wherewith he draws it were never endued by him with their distinct qualities, but only he applies them by his art, to compose such a figure; much more hath God a rightful claim of dominion over his creatures, whose entire being, both in matter and form, and every particle of their excellency, was breathed out by the word of his mouth. He did not only give the matter a form, but bestowed upon the matter itself a being; it was formed by none to his hand, as the matter is on which an artist works. He had the being of all things in his own power, and it was at his choice whether he would impart it or no; there can be no juster and stronger ground of a claim than this. A man hath a right to a piece of brass or gold by his purchase, but when by his engraving he hath formed it into an excellent statue, there results an increase of his right upon the account of his artifice. God’s creation of the matter of man gave him a right over man; but his creation of him in so eminent an excellency, with reason to guide him, a clear eye of understanding to discern light from darkness, and truth from falsehood, a freedom of will to act accordingly, and an original righteousness as the varnish and beauty of all; here is the strongest foundation, for a claim of authority over man, and the strongest obligation on man for subjection to God. If all those things had been past over to God by another hand, he could not be the supreme Lord, nor could have an absolute right to dispose of them at his pleasure: that would have been the invasion of another’s right. Besides, creation is the only first discovery of his dominion. Before the world was framed there was nothing but God himself, and, properly, nothing is said to have dominion over itself; this is a relative attribute, reflecting on the works of God. He had a right of dominion in his nature from eternity, but before creation he was actually Lord only of a nullity; where there is nothing it can have no relation; nothing is not the subject of possession nor of dominion. There could be no exercise of this dominion without creation: what exercise can a sovereign have without subjects? Sovereignty speaks a relation to subjects, and none is properly a sovereign without subjects. To conclude: from hence doth result God’s universal dominion; for being Maker of all, he is the ruler of all, and his perpetual dominion; for as long as God continues in the relation of Creator, the right of his sovereignty as Creator cannot be abolished.

     3. As God is the final cause, or end of all, he is Lord of all. The end hath a greater sovereignty in actions than the actor itself: the actor hath a sovereignty over others in action, but the end for which any one works hath a sovereignty over the agent himself: a limner hath a sovereignty over the picture he is framing, or hath framed, but the end for which he framed it, either his profit he designed from it, or the honor and credit of skill he aimed at in it, hath a dominion over the limner himself: the end moves and excites the artist to work; it spirits him in it, conducts him in his whole business, possesses his mind, and sits triumphant in him in all the progress of his work; it is the first cause for which the whole work is wrought. Now God, in his actual creation of all, is the sovereign end of all; “for thy pleasure they are and were created” (Rev. 4:11); “The Lord hath made all things for himself” (Prov. 16:4). Man, indeed, is the subordinate and immediate end of the lower creation, and therefore had the dominion over other creatures granted to him: but God being the ultimate and principal end, hath the sovereign and principal dominion; all things as much refer to him, as the last end, as they flow from him as the first cause. So that, as I said before, if the world had been compacted together by a jumbling chance, without a wise hand, as some have foolishly imagined, none could have been an antagonist with God for the government of the world; but God, in regard of the excellency of his nature, would have been the Rector of it, unless those atoms that had composed the world had had an ability to govern it. Since there could be no universal end of all things but God, God only can claim an entire right to the government of it; for though man be the end of the lower creation, yet man is not the end of himself and his own being; he is not the end of the creation of the supreme heavens; he is not able to govern them; they are out of his ken, and out of his reach. None fit in regard of the excellency of nature, to be the chief end of the whole world but God; and therefore none can have a right to the dominion of it but God: in this regard God’s dominion differs from the dominion of all earthly potentates. All the subjects in creation were made for God as their end, so are not people for rulers, but rulers made for people for their protection, and the preservation of order in societies.

     4. The dominion of God is founded upon his preservation of things. (Psalm 95:3, 4); “The Lord is a great King above all gods:” why? “In his hand are all the deep places of the earth.” While his hand holds things, his hand hath a dominion over them. He that holds a stone in the air, exerciseth a dominion over its natural inclination in hindering it from falling. The creature depends wholly upon God in its preservation; as soon as that Divine hand which sustains everything were withdrawn, a languishment and swooning would be the next turn in the creature. He is called Lord, Adonai, in regard of his sustentation of all things by his continual influx; the word coming of אדז, which signifies a basis or pillar, that supports a building. God is the Lord of all, as he is the sustainer of all by his power, as well as the Creator of all by his word. The sun hath a sovereign dominion over its own beams, which depend upon it, so that if he withdraws himself, they all attend him, and the world is left in darkness. God maintains the vigor of all things, conducts them in their operations; so that nothing that they are, nothing that they have, but is owing to his preserving power. The Master of this great family may as well be called the Lord of it, since every member of it depends upon him for the support of that being he first gave them, and holds of his empire. As the right to govern resulted from creation, so it is perpetuated by the preservation of things.

     5. The dominion of God is strengthened by the innumerable benefits he bestows upon his creatures: the benefits he confers upon us after creation, are not the original ground of his dominion. A man hath not authority over his servant from the kindness he shows to him, but his authority commenceth before any act of kindness, and is founded upon a right of purchase, conquest, or compact. Dominion doth not depend upon mere benefits; then inferiors might have dominions over superiors. A peasant may save the life of a prince to whom he was not subject; he hath not therefore a right to step up into his throne and give laws to him: and children that maintain their parents in their poverty, might then acquire an authority over them which they can never climb to; because the benefits they confer cannot parallel the benefits they have received from the authors of their lives. The bounties of God to us add nothing to the intrinsic right of his natural dominion; they being the effects of that sovereignty, as he is a rewarder and governor; as the benefits a prince bestows upon his favorite increases not that right of authority which is inherent in the crown, but strengthens that dominion as it stands in relation to the receiver, by increasing the obligation of the favorite to an observance of him, not only as his natural prince, but his gracious benefactor. The beneficence of God adds, though not an original right of power, yet a foundation of a stronger upbraiding the creature, if he walks in a violation and forgetfulness of those benefits, and pull in pieces the links of that ingenuous duty they call for; and an occasion of exercising of justice in punishing the delinquent, which is a part of his empire (Isa. 1:2): “Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth, the Lord hath spoken; I have nourished children, and they have rebelled against me.” Thus the fundamental right as Creator is made more indisputable by his relation as a benefactor, and more as being so after a forfeiture of what was enjoyed by creation. The benefits of God are innumerable, and so magnificent that they cannot meet with any compensation from the creature; and, therefore, do necessarily require a submission from the creature, and an acknowledgment of Divine authority. But that benefit of redemption doth add a stronger right of dominion to God; since he hath not only as a Creator given them being and life as his creatures, but paid a price, the price of his Son’s blood, for their rescue from captivity; so that he hath a sovereignty of grace as well as nature, and the ransomed ones belong to him as Redeemer as well as Creator (1 Cor. 6:19, 20): “Ye are not your own, for ye are bought with a price;” therefore your body and your spirit are God’s. By this he acquired a right of another kind, and bought us from that uncontrollable lordship we affected over ourselves by the sin of Adam, that he might use us as his own peculiar for his own glory and service. By this redemption there results to God a right over our bodies, over our spirits, over our services, as well as by creation; and to show the strength of this right, the apostle repeats it, “you are bought;” a purchase cannot be without a price paid; but he adds price also, “bought with a price.” To strengthen the title, purchase gave him a new right, and the greatness of the price established that right. The more a man pays for a thing, the more usually we say, he deserves to have it, he hath paid enough for it; it was, indeed, price enough, and too much for such vile creatures as we are.

     III. The third thing is, The nature of this dominion.

     1. This dominion is independent. His throne is in the heavens; the heavens depend not upon the earth, nor God upon his creatures. Since he is independent in regard of his essence, he is so in his dominion, which flows from the excellency and fulness of his essence; as he receives his essence from none, so he derives his dominion from none; all other dominion except paternal authority is rooted originally in the wills of men. The first title was the consent of the people, or the conquest of others by the help of those people that first consented; and in the exercise of it, earthly dominion depends upon assistance of the subjects, and the members being joined with the head carry on the work of government, and prevent civil dissensions; in the support of it, it depends upon the subjects’ contributions and taxes; the subjects in their strength are the arms, and in their purses the sinews of government; but God depends upon none in the foundation of his government; he is not a Lord by the votes of his vassals. Nor is it successively handed to him by any predecessor, nor constituted by the power of a superior; nor forced he his way by war and conquest, nor precariously attained it by suit or flattery, or bribing promises. He holds not the right of his empire from any other; he hath no superior to hand him to his throne, and settle him by commission; he is therefore called “King of kings, and Lord of lords,” having none above him; “A great King above all gods” (Psalm 95:3): needing no license from any when to act, nor direction how to act, or assistance in his action; he owes not any of those to any person; he was not ordered by any other to create, and therefore received not orders from any other to rule over what he hath created. He received not his power and wisdom from another, and therefore is not subject to any for the rule of his government. He only made his own subjects, and from himself hath the sole authority; his own will was the cause of their beings, and his own will is the director of their actions. He is not determined by his creatures in any of his motions, but determines the creatures in all; his actions are not regulated by any law without him, but by a law within him, the law of his own nature. It is impossible he can have any rule without himself, because there is nothing superior to himself, nor doth he depend upon any in the exercise of his government; he needs no servants in it, when he uses creatures: it is not out of want of their help, but for the manifestation of his wisdom and power. What he doth by his subjects, he can do by himself: “The government is upon his shoulder” (Isa. 9:6), to show that he needs not any supporters. All other governments flow from him, all other authorities depend upon him; Dei Gratiâ, or Dei Providentiâ, is in the style of princes. As their being is derived from his power, so their authority is but a branch of his dominion. They are governors by Divine providence; God is governor by his sole nature. All motions depend upon the first heaven, which moves all; but that depends upon nothing. The government of Christ depends upon God’s uncreated dominion, and is by commision from him; Christ assumed not this honor to himself, “But he that said unto him, Thou art my Son,” bestowed it upon him. “He put all things under his feet,” but not himself (1 Cor. 15:27). “When he saith, All things are put under him, he is excepted, which did put all things under him.” He sits still as an independent governor upon his throne.

     2. This dominion is absolute. If his throne be in the heavens, there is nothing to control him. If he be independent, he must needs be absolute; since he hath no cause in conjunction with him as Creator, that can share with him in his right, or restrain him in the disposal of his creature. His authority is unlimited; in this regard the title of “Lord” becomes not any but God properly. Tiberius, though none of the best, though one of the subtilest princes, accounted the title of “Lord” a reproach to him: since he was not “absolute.”

     1st. Absolute in regard of freedom and liberty.

     (1.) Thus creation is a work of his mere sovereignty; he created, because it was his pleasure to create (Rev. 4:11). He is not necessitated to do this or that. He might have chosen whether he would have framed an earth and heavens, and laid the foundations of his chambers in the waters. He was under no obligation to reduce things from nullity to existence.

     (2.) Preservation is the fruit of his sovereignty. When he had called the world to stand out, he might have ordered it to return into its dark den of nothingness, ripped up every part of its foundation, or have given being to many more creatures then he did. If you consider his absolute sovereignty, why might he not have divested Adam presently of those rational perfections wherewith he had endowed him? And might he not have metamorphosed him into some beast, and elevated some beast into a rational nature? Why might he not have degraded an angel to a worm, and advanced a worm to the nature and condition of an angel? Why might he not have revoked that grant of dominion, which he had passed to man over all creatures? It was free to him to permit sin to enter into the earth, or to have excluded it out of the earth, as he doth out of heaven.

     (3.) Redemption is a fruit of his sovereignty. By his absolute sovereignty he might have confirmed all the angels in their standing by grace, and prevented the revolt of any of their members from him; and when there was a revolt both in heaven and earth, it was free to him to have called out his Son to assume the angelical, as well as the human, nature, or have exercised his dominion in the destruction of men and devils, rather than in the redemption of any; he was under no obligation to restore either the one or the other.

     (4.) May he not impose what terms he pleases? May he not impose what laws he pleases, and exact what he will of his creature without promising any rewards? May he not use his own for his own honor, as well as men use for their credit what they do possess by his indulgence?

     (5.) Affliction is an act of his sovereignty. By this right of sovereignty, may not God take away any man’s goods, since they were his doles? As he was not indebted to us when he bestowed them, so he cannot wrong us when he removes them. He takes from us what is more his own than it is ours, and was never ours but by his gift, and that for a time only, not forever. By this right he may determine our times, put a period to our days when he pleases, strip us of one member, and lop off another. Man’s being was from him, and why should he not have a sovereignty to take what he had a sovereignty to give? Why should this seem strange to any of us, since we ourselves exercise an absolute dominion over those things in our possession, which have sense and feeling, as well as over those that want it? Doth not every man think he hath an absolute authority over the utensils of his house, over his horse, his dog, to preserve or kill him, to do what he please with him, without rendering any other reason than, It is my own? May not God do much more? Doth not his dominion over the work of his hands transcend that which a man can claim over his beast that he never gave life unto? He that dares dispute against God’s absolute right, fancies himself as much a god as his Creator: understands not the vast difference between the Divine nature and his own; between the sovereignty of God and his own, which is all the theme God himself discourseth upon in those stately chapters (Job. 38; 39.); not mentioning a word of Job’s sin, but only vindicating the rights of his own authority. Nor doth Job, in his reply (Job 40:4), speak of his sin, but of his natural vileness as a creature in the presence of his Creator. By this right, God unstops the bottles of heaven in one place, and stops them in another, causing it “to rain upon one city, and not upon another” (Amos 4:7); ordering the clouds to move to this or that quarter where he hath a mind to be a benefactor or a judge.

     (6.) Unequal dispensations are acts of his sovereignty. By this right he is patient toward those whose sins, by the common voice of men, deserve speedy judgments, and pours out pain upon those that are patterns of virtue to the world. By this he gives sometimes the worst of men an ocean of wealth and honor to swim in, and reduceth an useful and exemplary grace to a scanty poverty. By this he “rules the kingdoms of men,” and sets a crown upon the head of the basest of men (Dan. 4:17), while he deposeth another that seemed to deserve a weightier diadem. This is, as he is the Lord of the ammunition of his thunders, and the treasures of his bounty.

     (7.) He may inflict what torments he pleases. Some say, by this right of sovereignty he may inflict what torments he pleaseth upon an innocent person; which, indeed, will not bear the nature of a punishment as an effect of justice, without the supposal of a crime; but a torment, as an effect of that sovereign right he hath over his creature, which is as absolute over his work as the “potter’s” power is “over his own clay” (Jer. 18:6; Rom. 9:21). May not the potter, after his labor, either set his “vessel” up to adorn his house, or knock it in pieces, and fling it upon the dunghill; separate it to some noble use, or condemn it to some sordid service? Is the right of God over his creatures less than that of the potter over his vessel, since God contributed all to his creature, but the potter never made the clay, which is the substance of the vessel, nor the water which was necessary to make it tractable, but only moulded the substance of it into such a shape? The vessel that is framed, and the potter that frames it, differ only in life: the body of the potter, whereby he executes his authority, is of no better a mould than the clay, the matter of his vessel. Shall he have so absolute a power over that which is so near him, and shall not God over that which is so infinitely distant from him? The “vessel,” perhaps, might plead for itself that it was once part of the body of a man, and as good as the “potter” himself; whereas no creature can plead it was part of God, and as good as God himself. Though there be no man in the world but deserves affliction, yet the Scripture sometimes lays affliction upon the score of God’s dominion, without any respect to the sin of the afflicted person. Speaking of a sick person (James 5:10), “If he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him;” whereby is implied, that he might be struck into sickness by God, without any respect to a particular sin, but in a way of trial; and that his affliction sprung not from any exercise of Divine justice, but from his absolute sovereignty; and so, in the case of the blind man, when the disciples asked for what sin it was, whether for his “own,” or his “parents sin,” he was born blind? (John 9:3), “Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents;” which speaks, in itself, not against the whole current of Scripture; but the words import thus much, that God, in this blindness from the birth, neither respected any sin of the man’s own, nor of his parents, but he did it as an absolute sovereign, to manifest his own glory in that miraculous cure which was wrought by Christ. Though afflictions do not happen without the desert of the creature, yet some afflictions may be sent without any particular respect to that desert, merely for the manifestation of God’s glory, since the creature was made for God himself, and his honor, and therefore may be used in a serviceableness to the glory of the Creator.

     2d. His dominion is absolute in regard of unlimitedness by any law without him. He is an absolute monarch that makes laws for his subjects, but is not bound by any himself, nor receives any rules and laws from his subjects, for the management of his government. But most governments in the world are bounded by laws made by common consent. But when kings are not limited by the laws of their kingdoms, yet they are bounded by the law of nature, and the providence of God. But God is under no law without himself, his rule is within him, the rectitude and righteousness of his own nature; he is not under that law he hath prescribed to man. The law was not made for a “righteous man” (1 Tim. 1:9), much less for a righteous God. God is his own law; his own nature is his rule, as his own glory is his end; himself is his end, and himself is his law. He is moved by nothing without himself; nothing hath the dominion of a motive over him but his own will, which is his rule for all his actions in heaven and earth. (Dan. 4:32), “He rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomsoever he will.” And, (Rom. 9:18,) “He hath mercy on whom he will have mercy;” as all things are wrought by him according to his own eternal ideas in his own mind, so all is wrought by him according to the inward motive in his own will, which was the manifestation of his own honor. The greatest motives, therefore, that the best persons have used, when they have pleaded for any grant from God, was his own glory, which would be advanced by an answer of their petition.

     3d. His dominion is absolute in regard of supremacy and uncontrollableness. None can implead him, and cause him to render a reason of his actions. He is the sovereign King, “Who may say unto him, What dost thou?” (Eccles. 8:4.) It is an absurd thing for any to dispute with God. (Rom. 11:20), “Who art thou, O man, that repliest against God?” Thou, a man, a piece of dust, to argue with a God incomprehensibly above thy reason, about the reason of his works! Let the potsherds strive with the potsherds of the earth, but “not with Him that fashioned them” (Isa. 45:9). In all the desolations he works, he asserts his own supremacy to silence men. (Psalm 46:10), “Be still, and know that I am God!” Beware of any quarrelling motions in your minds; it is sufficient than I am God, that is supreme, and will not be impleaded, and censured, or worded with by any creature about what I do. He is not bound to render a reason of any of his proceedings. Subjects are accountable to their princes, and princes to God, God to none; since he is not limited by any superior, his prerogative is supreme.

     4th. His dominion is absolute in regard of irresistibleness. Other governments are bounded by law; so that what a governor hath strength to do, he hath not a right to do; other governors have a limited ability, that what they have a right to do, they have not always a strength to do; they may want a power to execute their own counsels. But God is destitute of neither; he hath an infinite right, and an infinite strength; his word is a law; he commands things to stand out of nothing, and they do so. “He commanded,” or spake, ὁ εἰπών, “light to shine out of darkness” (2 Cor. 4:6). There is no distance of time between his word: “Let there be light; and there was light” (Gen. 1:3). Magistrates often use not their authority, for fear of giving occasion to insurrections, which may overturn their empire. But if the Lord will work, “who shall let it?” (Isa. 43:19): and if God will not work, who shall force him? He can check and overturn all other powers; his decrees cannot be stopped, nor his hand held back by any: if he wills to dash the whole world in pieces, no creature can maintain its being against his order. He sets the ordinances of the heavens, and the dominion thereof in the earth; and sends lightnings, that they may go, and say unto him, “Here we are” (Job 38:33, 34).

     3. Yet this dominion, though it be absolute, is not tyrannical, but it is managed by the rules of wisdom, righteousness, and goodness. If his throne be in the heavens, it is pure and good: because the heavens are the purest parts of the creation, and influence by their goodness the lower earth. Since he is his own rule, and his nature is infinitely wise, holy, and righteous, he cannot do a thing but what is unquestionably agreeable with wisdom, justice, and purity. In all the exercises of his sovereign right, he is never unattended with those perfections of his nature. Might not God, by his absolute power, have pardoned men’s guilt, and thrown the invading sin out of his creatures? But in regard of his truth pawned in his threatening, and in regard of his justice, which demanded satisfaction, he would not. Might not God, by his absolute sovereignty, admit a man into his friendship, without giving him any grace? but in regard of the incongruity of such an act to his wisdom and holiness, he will not. May he not, by his absolute power, refuse to accept a man that desires to please him, and reject a purely innocent creature? but in regard of his goodness and righteousness, he will not. Though innocence be amiable in its own nature, yet it is not necessary in regard of God’s sovereignty, that he should love it; but in regard of his goodness it is necessary, and he will never do otherwise. As God never acts to the utmost of his power, so he never exerts the utmost of his sovereignty: because it would be inconsistent with those other properties which render him perfectly adorable to the creature. As no intelligent creature, neither angel nor man, can be framed without a law in his nature, so we cannot imagine God without a law in his own nature, unless we would fancy him a rude, tyrannical, foolish being, that hath nothing of holiness, goodness, righteousness, wisdom. If he “made the heavens in wisdom” (Psalm 136:5), he made them by some rule, not by a mere will, but a rule within himself, not without. A wise work is never the result of an absolute unguided will.

     (1.) This dominion is managed by the rule of wisdom. What may appear to us to have no other spring than absolute sovereignty, would be found to have a depth of amazing wisdom, and accountable reason, were our short capacities long enough to fathom it. When the apostle had been discoursing of the eternal counsels of God, in seizing upon one man, and letting go another, in neglecting the Jews, and gathering in the Gentiles, which appears to us to be results only of an absolute dominion, yet he resolves not those amazing acts into that, without taking it for granted that they, were governed by exact wisdom, though beyond his ken to see and his line to sound. “O, the depth of the riches, both of the wisdom and knowledge of God; how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out” (Rom. 11:33)! There are some things in matters of state, that may seem to be acts of mere will, but if we were acquainted with the arcana imperii, the inward engines which moved them, and the ends aimed at in those undertakings, we might find a rich vein of prudence in them, to incline us to judge otherwise than bare arbitrary proceedings. The other attributes of power and goodness are more easily perceptible in the works of God than his wisdom. The first view of the creation strikes us with this sentiment, that the Author of this great fabric was mighty and beneficial; but his wisdom lies deeper than to be discerned at the first glance, without a diligent inquiry; as at the first casting our eyes upon the sea, we behold its motion, color, and something of its vastness, but we cannot presently fathom the depth of it, and understand those lower fountains that supply that great ocean of waters. It is part of God’s sovereignity, as it is of the wisest princes, that he hath a wisdom beyond the reach of his subjects; it is not for a finite nature to understand an Infinite Wisdom, nor for a foolish creature that hath lost his understanding by the fall, to judge of the reason of the methods of a wise Counsellor. Yet those actions that savor most of sovereignty, present men with some glances of his wisdom. Was it mere will, that he suffered some angels to fall? But his wisdom was in it for the manifestation of his justice, as it was also in the case of Pharaoh. Was it mere will, that he suffered sin to be committed by man? Was not his wisdom in this for the discovery of his mercy, which never had been known without that, which should render a creature miserable? “He hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all” (Rom. 11:32). Though God had such an absolute right, to have annihilated the world as soon as ever he had made it, yet how had this consisted with his wisdom, to have erected a creature after his own image one day, and despised it so much the next, as to cashier it from being? What wisdom had it been to make a thing only to destroy it; to repent of his work as soon as ever it came out of his hands, without any occasion offered by the creature? If God be supposed to be Creator, he must be supposed to have an end in creation; what end can that be but himself and his own glory, the manifestation of the perfections of his nature? What perfection could have been discovered in so quick an annihilation, but that of his power in creating, and of his sovereignty in snatching away the being of his rational creature, before it had laid the methods of acting. What wisdom to make a world, and a reasonable creature for no use; not to praise and honor him, but to be broken in pieces, and destroyed by him?

     (2.) His sovereignty is managed according to the rule of righteousness. Worldly princes often fancy tyranny and oppression to be the chief marks of sovereignty, and think their sceptres not beautiful till died in blood, nor the throne secure till established upon slain carcasses. But “justice and judgment” are the foundation of the throne of God (Psalm 89:14); alluding perhaps to the supporters of arms and thrones, which among princes are the figures of lions, emblems of courage, as Solomon had (1 Kings 10:19). But God makes not so much might, as right, the support of his. He sits on a “throne of holiness” (Psalm 47:8). As he reigns over the heathens, referring to the calling of the Gentiles after the rejecting of the Jews; the Psalmist here praising the righteousness of it, as the Apostle had the unsearchable wisdom of it (Rom. 11:33). “In all his ways he is righteous” (Psalm 145:17): in his ways of terror as well as those of sweetness; in those works wherein little else but that of his sovereignty appears to us. It is always linked with his holiness, that he will not do by his absolute right anything but what is conformable to it: since his dominion is founded upon the excellency of his nature, he will not do anything but what is agreeable to it, and becoming his other perfections. Though he be an absolute sovereign, he is not an arbitrary governor; “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right” (Gen. 18:25)? i.e. it is impossible but he should act righteously in every punctilio of his government, since his righteousness capacitates him to be a judge, not a tyrant, of all the earth. The heathen poets represented their chief god Jupiter with Themis, or Right, sitting by him upon his throne in all his orders. God cannot by his absolute sovereignty command some things, because they are directly against unchangeable righteousness; as to command a creature to hate or blaspheme the Creator, not to own him nor praise him. It would be a manifest unrighteousness to order the creature not to own him, upon whom he depends both in its being and well-being; this would be against that natural duty which is indispensably due from every rational creature to God. This would be to order him to lay aside his reason, while he retains it; to disown him to be the Creator, while man remains his creature. This is repugnant to the nature of God, and the true nature of the creature; or to exact anything of man, but what he had given him a capacity, in his original nature, to perform. If any command were above our natural power, it would be unrighteous; as to command a man to grasp the globe of the earth, to stride over the sea, to lave out the waters of the ocean; these things are impossible, and become not the righteousness and wisdom of God to enjoin. There can be no obligation on man to an impossibility. God had a free dominion over nullity before the creation; he could call it out into the being of man and beast, but he could not do anything in creation foolishly, because of his infinite wisdom; nor could he by the right of his absolute sovereignty make man sinful, because of his infinite purity. As it is impossible for him not to be sovereign, it is impossible for him to deny his Deity and his purity. It is lawful for God to do what he will, but his will being ordered by the righteousness of his nature, as infinite as his will, he cannot do anything but what is just; and therefore in his dealing with men, you find him in Scripture submitting the reasonableness and equity of his proceedings to the judgment of his depraved creatures, and the inward dictates of their own conscience. “And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem, and men of Judah, judge, I pray you, between me and my vineyard” (Isa. 5:3). Though God be the great Sovereign of the world, yet he acts not in a way of absolute sovereignty. He rules by law; he is a “Lawgiver” as well as a “King” (Isa. 33:22). It had been repugnant to the nature of a rational creature to be ruled otherwise; to be governed as a beast, this had been to frustrate those faculties of will and understanding which had been given him. To conclude this: when we say, God can do this or that, or command this or that, his authority is not bounded and limited properly. Who can reasonably detract from his almightiness, because he cannot do anything which savors of weakness; and what detracting is it from his authority, that he cannot do anything unseemly for the dignity of his nature? It is rather from the infiniteness of his righteousness than the straitness of his authority; at most it is but a voluntary bounding his dominion by the law of his own holiness.

     (3.) His sovereignty is managed according to the rule of goodness. Some potentates there have been in the world, that have loved to suck the blood, and drink the tears, of their subjects; that would rule more by fear than love; like Clearchus, the tyrant of Heraclea, who bore the figure of a thunderbolt instead of a sceptre, and named his son Thunder, thereby to tutor him to terrify his subjects. But as God’s throne is a throne of holiness, so it is a “throne of grace” (Heb. 4:16), a throne encircled with a rainbow: “In sight like to an emerald” (Rev. 4:3): an emblem of the covenant, that hath the pleasantness of a green color, delightful to the eye, betokening mercy. Though his nature be infinitely excellent above us, and his power infinitely transcendent over us, yet the majesty of his government is tempered with an unspeakable goodness. He acts not so much as an absolute Lord, as a gracious Sovereign and obliging Benefactor. He delights not to make his subjects slaves; exacts not from them any servile and fearful, but a generous and cheerful, obedience. He requires them not to fear, or worship him so much for his power, as his goodness. He requires not of a rational creature anything repugnant to the honor, dignity, and principles of such a nature; not anything that may shame, disgrace it, and make it weary of its own being, and the service it owes to its Sovereign. He draws by the cords of a man; his goodness renders his laws as sweet as honey or the honey-comb to an unvitiated palate and a renewed mind.

     And though it be granted he hath a full dispose of his creature, as the potter of his vessel, and might by his absolute sovereignty inflict upon an innocent an eternal torment, yet his goodness will never permit him to use this sovereign right to the hurt of a creature that deserves it not. If God should cast an innocent creature into the furnace of his wrath, who can question him? But who can think that his goodness will do so, since that is as infinite as his authority? As not to punish the sinner would be a denial of his justice, so to torment an innocent would be a denial of his goodness. A man hath an absolute power over his beast, and may take away his life, and put him to a great deal of pain; but that moral virtue of pity and tenderness would not permit him to use this right, but when it conduceth to some greater good than that can be evil; either for the good of man, which is the end of the creature, or for the good of the poor beast itself, to rid him of a greater misery; none but a savage nature, a disposition to be abhorred, would torture a poor beast merely for his pleasure. It is as much against the nature of God to punish one eternally, that hath not deserved it, as it is to deny himself, and act anything foolishly and unbeseeming his other perfections, which render him majestical and adorable. To afflict an innocent creature for his own good, or for the good of the world, as in the case of the Redeemer, is so far from being against goodness, that it is the highest testimony of his tender bowels to the sons of men. God, though he be mighty, “withdraws not his eyes,” i. e. his tender respect, “from the righteous” (Job 36:5, 7–10). And if he “bind them in fetters,” it is to “show them their transgressions,” and “open their ear to discipline,” and renewing commands, in a more sensible strain, “to depart from iniquity.” What was said of Fabritius, “You may as soon remove the sun from its course, as Fabritius from his honesty,” may be of God: you may as soon dash in pieces his throne, as separate his goodness from his sovereignty.

     4. This sovereignty is extensive over all creatures. He rules all, as the heavens do over the earth. He is “King of worlds, King of ages,” as the word translated “eternal” signifies (1 Tim. 1:17), Τῷ δὲ βασιλεῖ τῶν αἰώνων: and the same word is so translated (Heb. 1:2), “By whom also he made the worlds.” The same word is rendered “worlds” (Heb. 11:3): “The worlds were framed by the Word of God.” God is King of ages or worlds, of the invisible world and the sensible; of all from the beginning of their creation, of whatsoever is measured by a time. It extends over angels and devils, over wicked and good, over rational and irrational creatures; all things bow down under his hand; nothing can be exempted from him: because there is nothing but was extracted by him from nothing into being. All things essentially depend upon him; and, therefore, must be essentially subject to him; the extent of his dominion flows from the perfection of his essence; since his essence is unlimited, his royalty cannot be restrained. His authority is as void of any imperfection as his essence is; it reaches out to all points of the heaven above, and the earth below. Other princes reign in a spot of ground. Every worldly potentate hath the confines of his dominions. The Pyrenean mountains divide France from Spain, and the Alps, Italy from France. None are called kings absolutely, but kings of this or that place. But God is the King; the spacious firmament limits not his dominion; if we could suppose him bounded by any place, in regard of his presence, yet he could never be out of his own dominion; whatsoever he looks upon, wheresoever he were, would be under his rule. Earthly kings may step out of their own country into the territory of a neighbor prince; and as one leaves his country, so he leaves his dominion behind him; but heaven and earth, and every particle of both, is the territory of God. “He hath prepared his throne in the heavens, and his kingdom rules over all.”

The Existence and Attributes of God

2 Corinthians 5-9
     JD Farag

2 Corinthians 5:1-8
Don’t Lose Heart 2
J.D. Farag

2 Corinthians 5:9-13
Spiritual Stamina 1
J.D. Farag

2 Corinthians 5:14-21
Spiritual Stamina 2
J.D. Farag

2 Corinthians 6:1-10
Spiritual Stamina 3
J.D. Farag

2 Corinthians 6:11-18
Obstacles to Godliness
J.D. Farag

2 Corinthians 7:1-7
Obstacles to Godliness 2
J.D. Farag

2 Corinthians 7:8-16
Obstacles to Godliness 3
J.D. Farag

2 Corinthians 8:1-5
Money and Giving 1
J.D. Farag

2 Corinthians 8:1-9
Money and Giving 2
J.D. Farag

2 Corinthians 8:10-24
Money and Giving 3
J.D. Farag

2 Corinthians 9:1-15
Money and Giving 4
J.D. Farag

J.D. Farag

2 Corinthians 5-9
     Jon Courson

2 Corinthians 5:17-21
The Great Switcheroo
03-02-1994 | Jon Courson

2 Corinthians 5:1-9
03-30-1994 | Jon Courson

2 Corinthians 5:10-21
04-06-1994 | Jon Courson

2 Corinthians 6:14-18
Unequally Yoked
04-10-1994 | Jon Courson

2 Corinthians 6
04-13-1994 | Jon Courson

2 Corinthians 7:8-10
Real Repentance
04-17-1994 | Jon Courson

2 Corinthians 7
04-20-1994 | Jon Courson

2 Corinthians 9:7
Giving Gladly: Why Should I?
05-15-1994 | Jon Courson

2 Corinthians 8:1-15
05-18-1994 | Jon Courson

2 Corinthians 8-9
05-25-1994 | Jon Courson

2 Corinthians 5:14-17
Envisioning Love
05-26-2019 | Jon Courson

2 Corinthians 5
05-29-2019 | Jon Courson

2 Corinthians 6
06-05-2019 | Jon Courson

2 Corinthians 7:1
The Father Loves You
06-16-2019 | Jon Courson

2 Corinthians 7-8
06-19-2019 | Jon Courson

2 Corinthians 9-10
06-26-2019 | Jon Courson

2 Corinthians 9-10
06-26-2019 | Jon Courson

Jon Courson | Jon Courson

2 Corinthians 5-9
     Skip Heitzig

2 Corinthians 8:1-7
Gracious Marks of Generous Hearts
Calvary Chapel NM

2 Corinthians 9:6-15
Money Matters for the Smart Home
Calvary Chapel NM

Skip Heitzig | Calvary Chapel NM

2 Corinthians 5-9
     Paul LeBoutillier

2 Corinthians 5:1-10 pt 1
The Promise of New Bodies
07-16-2017 | Paul LeBoutillier

2 Corinthians 5:11-17 pt 2
A New Creation in Christ
07-30-2017 | Paul LeBoutillier

2 Corinthians 5:18-21 pt 3
Reconciled to God
08-06-2017 | Paul LeBoutillier

2 Corinthians 6
Working with God
08-13-2017 | Paul LeBoutillier

2 Corinthians 6:12-20 pt 2
Your body wasn't made for that!
08-20-2016 | Paul LeBoutillier

2 Corinthians 7:1 pt 1
Bringing Holiness to Completion
08-27-2017 | Paul LeBoutillier

2 Corinthians 7:2-16 pt 2
09-05-2017 | Paul LeBoutillier

2 Corinthians 8:1-5 pt 1
Grace that Enables
09-13-2017 | Paul LeBoutillier

2 Corinthians 8:6-24 pt 2
The Grace to GIVE
09-05-2017 | Paul LeBoutillier

2 Corinthians 9
God loves a Cheerful Giver
09-24-2017 | Paul LeBoutillier

Paul LeBoutillier | Calvary Chapel Ontario, Oregon

2 Corinthians 5 - 9
     Brett Meador | Athey Creek

Brett Meador | Athey Creek

Synopsis | This morning we take a closer look at our text in 2 Corinthians 6. Pastor Brett talks about the importance of not being unequally yoked in marriage, friendship or business.

Unequally Yoked
2 Corinthians 6:14-18
s1-541 | 07-17-2011

Only audio available | click here

Synopsis | In Chapter 5 of II Corinthians, Paul talks about what we, as Christians, should do during trials and tough times. Paul also discusses the Lord’s judgment.

2 Corinthians 5
m1-559 | 07-20-2011

Only audio available | click here

Synopsis | In II Corinthians 7:8-10, we study the difference between repentance and regret. Paul talks about what it meant for the church at Corinth to be truly sorry and repentant, versus being sorry only for a short while and reverting back to their old ways.

2 Corinthians 7:8-10
s1-542 | 07-24-2011

Only audio available | click here

Synopsis | Tonight, we continue our study through 2 Corinthians 6 and 7. Paul explains to the church that as Christians we are to be ambassadors, representing Jesus Christ in this dark world.

2 Corinthians 6-7
m1-560 | 07-27-2011

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Synopsis | This morning, we continue our study through 2 Corinthians 8, where Paul talks to the Corinthians about what is good and expedient for them. Pastor Brett focuses on how to identify the problem, expose the after-effect and offer the solution.

Just Do Something
2 Corinthians 8:10-11
s1-543 | 07-31-2011

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Synopsis | In II Corinthians 8, Paul begins to teach the church about giving. Pastor Brett discusses the difference between “giving” and “tithe”

2 Corinthians 8
m1-561 | 08-10-2011

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Synopsis | In 2 Corinthians 9:15, Paul takes a moment to celebrate the free gift of Jesus Christ and what He has done for all of us. We look at all the aspects of this gift and all of its glory.

God's Unspeakable Gift
2 Corinthians 9:15
s1-544 | 08-14-2011

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Synopsis | Tonight, we see Paul continue to build up the Corinthians in the Lord. We learn how this looks in our lives today.

2 Corinthians 9
m1-562 | 08-17-2011

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Synopsis | We read in 2 Corinthians 9:15 “Thanks be unto God for His unspeakable Gift.” Join us for Part I of this Christmas 2006 study.

God's Unspeakable Gift
2 Corinthians 9:15
g-053 | 12-23-2006

Only audio available | click here

Synopsis | In Part II of this Christmas 2006 study, consider the greatest gift anyone could ever receive - Jesus Christ.

Christmas 2006-Part II
2 Corinthians 9:15
g-112 | 12-24-2006

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Synopsis | We learn that Jesus is God’s gift to humanity.

Christmas Sunday
2 Corinthians 9:15
g-147 | 12-20-2009

Only audio available | click here


2 Corinthians 5:11-20
The Reconciling Gospel
John MacArthur

The Origin of Sin
John Coe | Biola University

Kinship Societies
Doug Hayward | Biola University

Leadership: Tribal Communities
Doug Hayward | Biola University

Issues in Genetic and Biotechnologies
Scott Rae | Biola University

Christ Emptying Himself
Bob Saucy | Biola University

Theology and Reproductive Alternatives
Scott Rae | Biola University

Why Study Theology
Peter Watts | University of Nottingham

General and Special Revelation
Rick Langer | Biola University

Pregnancy Ethics
Scott Rae | Biola University

Spiritual Friendship
Wesley Hill | Biola University

Ministry of Reconciliation
2 Cor 5:17-21 | John MacArthur

An Introduction to Advent
Lisa Igram | Biola University